May 27, 2011

Friday Favorites

My list of favorites this week is simple:

After a few too many weeks of this...
... I have gotten to spend the past day and a half with my favorite person:
Following a long two days of Yellow Ribbon ceremonies and speakers and officers' dinners and hails and hooahs, we get to enjoy the next four days at home together.
This schedule for this weekend includes one night here...
[courtesy of]
... and a little bit of this:
(local wine tasting)
with some of our favorite people:
(my best friend and Dan's brother)
... and their lovely significant others!
We also have a birthday party for our niece and nephew, a farewell dinner with lots of my family, some quality cuddling with the cat, a date night, a few errands, and lots of goodbyes to squeeze in before the departure ceremony. 
Luckily, though, my favorite thing of all this Friday is a piece of good news that involves one of these:
... and a weekend trip to see my hubby in a few months. Hurray for 4 days of leave! I am so incredibly grateful that this weekend is not goodbye, but "see you later."
Needless to say, I will be a bit preoccupied with spending as much time with my guy as possible in the next few days. I'll be back later in the week though! Happy weekend, everyone!


May 24, 2011

When You Wish Upon a Blog

Ahhh yes, it's one of those Tuesdays. The weekend seems impossibly far away (even though I have Thursday and Friday "off" this week), my coworkers are dancing all over my very last shred of patience, and I'm pretty sure that my brain is starting to flood with all the rain. My evening is calling out to me with a big glass of wine, a warm blanket, a funny movie, and a pint of Phish Food fro-yo... I just have to get there first. Until then, here are a few items from my wish list that have been frequenting my daydreams of late:

The fact that none of the furniture in our apartment matches is starting to get to me. I don't dislike any of the pieces on their own, but hate the fact that our living room looks like a four-year-old threw together a bunch of magazine clippings. More than anything, I am so ready for a real bed with a headboard and matching bedding to replace our dinosaur box springs. That's right, there are dinosaurs on our box springs. Thankfully they are covered with a sham, but I still know they are under there. I am so in love with the bed, couch, and chair above (all from heaven-on-earth-aka-Pottery Barn) I could just crawl right into the pictures.

My closet is positively crying out for both of these lovely creations (from the amazing Kate Spade). One for fun, one for business. Flirty vs. professional. Both equally adorable. Why choose?

I have been lusting after one of these babies for quite a while now. I was working on convincing myself that it's a practical purchase and will save me money in the long run, but when I discovered this weekend that they brew iced coffee and iced tea, I knew I was a goner. Any bets on how long I can hold out? I'm guessing it will be only as long as it takes for Dunkin' Donuts to start selling K-cups, which should be later this year.

I have been struck by a serious craving for unhealthy food lately. I'm pretty sure that my body is rebelling against all the healthy stuff I've been force-feeding it lately, because I have been positively dying for a greasy, fattening, calorie-dense feast. Preferably one that includes some (or all) of the above dishes. If you need me, you can find me at the gym for the rest of the month: either in a desperate effort to avoid this kind of meal, or recovering once I eventually give in.

At the very top of my wish list though (as always) is this guy. I'd gladly forfeit the bed, the shoes, the coffee, and the calories if it meant my handsome husband could come home to stay. I am so excited to see him on Thursday and have him home for several days, even though I know it will be bittersweet. Luckily, he proves to me over and over again that he still knows just the right way to make me smile, even from miles and miles away.

What are you wishing for on this dreary Tuesday?


May 23, 2011

Movin' On Up

Happy Monday, everyone... if such things exist? I am certainly dragging a little bit today, especially after a tough run this morning -- my legs feel like they've been switched out for two concrete slabs. Luckily I only have to make it through three days at work this week. Thursday I head off to a two-day yellow ribbon ceremony for Dan's impending departure, and then he (and I) have off Saturday through next Tuesday. Wednesday we have another departure ceremony, and then he is off for mobilization in Indiana for the next two months. I can certainly think of more fun ways to spend our vacation time than preparing to say goodbye, but I'm still pretty excited to spend a few more days together.
This weekend was busy busy busy. I was feeling crazy motivated on Friday after work, so I headed out to get my weekly long run out of the way. Thankfully, it turned out to be one of the first afternoons all year (roughly) that didn't include a massive thunderstorm, so I was able to stay (at least partially) dry for 8 miles. Ha, who am I kidding? I was still soaked when I finished, plus I had a lovely little war wound chafing incident under my right arm. I had no idea those things could hurt so badly. I was in absolute agony when I finally finished, and let's just say the scene in the shower was not pretty. I'm pretty sure I'll be investing in a stick of this:
... sooner rather than later.
I was also thrilled to find a package waiting outside my front door on Friday evening filled with over $100 of clothes from one of my favorite stores... for which I did not pay a single cent. Hurray for gift cards and sales! I got a dress, an adorable skirt, and five great new shirts that I can wear both for work or on the weekends. I'm so glad that the weather is finally warm enough to wear skirts and dresses and sandals!
Saturday morning, I made the two-hour trek up to my best friend's town, where she and her boyfriend were moving from one apartment to a cute little townhouse about a mile down the street. Since my bestie M is the super-organized and always-prepared type, they actually finished moving (almost) everything from the old apartment to the new place before I even got there. That afternoon we put furniture together, unpacked boxes, got the kitchen squared away, placed rugs and tables, got the dishes washed and food squared away, and did several loads of laundry. That night we ate a fantastic dinner from their favorite Italian delivery place, which confirmed my fear that if I ever live in a place where someone can be paid to bring a large bowl of pasta right to my door, I will never leave my house or turn on my oven again.
I went for a quick run Sunday morning to explore their new neighborhood. It was so great to run in a new city, meet a few new puppies, and just enjoy a change of scenery. I helped M clean their old apartment and round up the rest of the stray belongings hiding in the backs of closets, and we made a quick Target run before I left. Incredibly, I did not make a single purchase at Target... a seriously impressive feat of self-control if you know me and my love for that store.
When I got back home last night, I was apparently still in cleaning mode... which was only aggravated by a certain feline who appears to have thrown a wild party while I was away. I scrubbed and tossed junk and organized for several hours last night before falling into bed completely exhausted. Since when do weekends end up being more work than the workweek? 
All in all, though, it was a wonderful (and wonderfully productive) weekend. I was so glad to help M and her guy get all settled in in their lovely new place... and I can't wait to go back and visit again soon! Hope that you all had great weekends as well, whether they were busy or relaxing!


May 20, 2011

Into the Unknown

To say that I am a planner might be the understatement of the century. I make lists of my lists. I plan menus in my sleep. In college, I often spent so much effort researching and outlining that I nearly ran out of time to actually write the paper. My apartment is afloat with post-it notes and index cards (my mediums of choice) with grocery lists, weekly budgets, songs I want to buy, workout records, and recipes to try. I prepare and anticipate and calculate and schedule every little detail to death and back again, despite the fact that this tends to drive some of the more spontaneous people in my life (including my poor husband) to distraction. Whenever I am upset or stressed, I cuddle up to Dan and ask him to help me: to plan the day, the weekend, the solution to my problems. There are days that I try hard to be a little more impulsive (mainly when my impulses tell me I want ice cream), but the closest I come, usually, is heading out for a run without a route already planned. In general, though, I thrive when I know exactly what to expect... and I figure that at 23 years old, I should probably stick to what I know works for me.
This is where the army and I disagree. I swear that Dan's only job description is "unpredictable," unless it also includes "frequent and drastic last-minute changes." Which makes it a little hard for my ever-planning brain to cope. I can't tell you the number of times I've been mentally prepared for a certain duration of training, a specific return date, or a particular state in which Dan could be found at a given time, only to discover that they would in fact be much longer, much later, or much further away. After almost 6 years, one might think that I would start to get used to this way of life. Let me tell you, a little adaptation would be welcome. But my stubborn self just continues to plan and count on things and write dates in pen... and I still get horribly thrown off track when plans are changed (as they inevitably are). If nothing else, I suppose I'm getting used to disappointment.
When Dan first found out about his deployment, I immediately started to ask questions. (Ok, that's not completely true: first I cried, then I asked questions) I wanted to know everything about everything, to have a clear vision of what our lives would be while he was gone. I quizzed Dan on every aspect of the 13 months: what his mobilization would be like, what would happen when he got overseas, what a typical day would be like for him, how often I'd hear from him, and every single contingency I could come up with. It was here that we encountered problems: I had questions, and my hubby, through no fault of his own, had very few answers. Besides a very rough timeline and general location, the details were fuzzy at best. Dan was not worried, but I was terrified. I needed a plan.
Since at that point we were still over 6 months from his departure, I tried to relax and be at peace with all of the unknown. In reality, I think I spent the first few months in denial, thinking about everything as little as possible and putting off the stress until an unspecific later date. Probably not the best way to deal with it, but at least I didn't let it ruin the holidays. As June 1st has crept closer and closer, however, it's become increasingly harder not to yank my head out of the sand just a little and look at what, exactly, is going on around me. 
In the past 6 months, since we first learned about the deployment, it seems like everything has changed. We jumped from 7 months to 13, Dan's responsibilities during those 13 months have shifted (and continue to change even now), and even his location may change at some point while he is gone. The only thing that hasn't changed? The details are still fuzzy as ever, of course. We don't know exactly when he will leave the country, or how he will get to his actual destination. We don't know how often he will have to make trips off-post, or how reliable the internet access will be. Toward the end of this year, we know that his location is likely to change, but we don't know where he will go or what he will be doing there. We don't know if he will even get a typical 2 week R&R, much less when it will be. Fuzzy. At best.
This unknown factor has been the absolute worst part of the past month, as we "prepare" for Dan to leave. It's hard enough that this is our first deployment and neither of us really know what to expect, but all the extra question marks have made it exponentially scarier. I'm trying to hard to take each day at a time and not stress over all the things I still can't plan, but this goes against every single instinct I've spend 23 years honing. I want desperately to know what the next 13 months will hold for us. I want to know if it will really be as hard as I am dreading, or worse. I want to know that he will be happy with what he's doing there. Most of all, I want to know that I will be able to hear from him -- whether it is daily, weekly, or monthly... I just want to know.
Chances this whole experience of diving off the cliff, not knowing what waits for me at the bottom (nor what the trip down will look like) will force me to become a little less focused on planning my life and a little more focused on living it? Well..... a girl can hope, can't she?


May 17, 2011

101 Ways to Eat Pumpkin Mush, or An Extremely Out-of Season Post

I'm going to let you in on a little secret about my newest food obsession, but you have to promise one thing: don't tell my scale, ok? I've been eating so much of this stuff lately, but so far I've managed to keep it quiet during those morning visits with my friend/enemy/enforcer-of-truth the scale. So I think this can stay just between us, right?
A few weekends ago, I was wracking my brain (and my favorite food blogs) for a quick and simple but yummy dessert. I have kind of a thing about making dessert when people come over for dinner -- Dan and I usually work together to plan and cook the meal, but dessert is my area of expertise interest, and I set a rather high standard for myself. I feel compelled to make something new and impressive every time, and even though I tend to stress about it a little more than I should, the compliments and smiles and moans of pleasure (not that kind of pleasure) I am rewarded with make it so very worth it. The first thing that frequent visitors (ie Dan's brother and his girlfriend) ask when they walk in is "What's for dessert?" and I'd much rather eat only broccoli for the rest of my life than let them down. In the past two months, I've whipped up devil's food cupcakes, s'mores pie, sugar-free chocolate cupcakes, cake mix cookies, and carrot cake cupcakes
So on the weekend in question, I was short on time but determined to come up with yet another new and fantastic recipe. In my search, I came across a pumpkin recipe of some sort, and immediately my mind wandered back to last Thanksgiving and the incredible pumpkin cannoli I whipped up in a determination to make something with a "little more character" to go with my pumpkin pie. I've never met a pumpkin that I didn't like, so around that time of year I eat as much of it as I possibly can, and I had been searching at the time for something unique. When I first came across the recipe I was a little intimidated (maybe it was the authentic Italian sound), but this is, in fact, one of the simplest recipes you will ever find. So a few weekends ago, I thought about it and realized that no one coming over that night had tried these the first time around. I was sold.
Except I couldn't remember the ingredients. Or find the recipe on my phone at the grocery store. I remembered there being just a few components to the filling (and I knew one was pumpkin), so ended up buying several things I thought might be right. Luckily, I made it home with the vanilla pudding mix and heavy cream (and a tub of ricotta cheese that's still sitting in the fridge). The best part is that our grocery store sells "homemade" cannoli shells for almost nothing -- unfortunately I don't have the little aluminum tubes to make my own shells, although these are definitely on a wish list.
That evening, I heated and mixed up the pumpkin, pudding mix, and cream, stuffed the shells, sprinkled mini chocolate chips on the ends, and gave each plate a little side of whipped cream all in about 10 minutes (not including the time it took the filling to cool). Everyone loved them and I'm pretty sure they were even better this time around. The filling is similar to pumpkin pie but light and delicious, and it goes perfectly with a little bit of chocolate and the shells for texture. I wish I'd had the sense to take a picture, but these barely hit the plates before we were shoveling them in.
Around rolls the next morning, and as I searched for breakfast, my eyes fell on the extra filling sitting in the fridge. Yum. But as tempted as I was to fill another shell or two and have dessert for breakfast (don't judge), I compromised with myself and instead made a bowl of oatmeal, which I topped with a few spoonfuls of the pumpkin mixture. I wasn't sure how it would work, but I was a little excited to try, and It was one of the best breakfasts that I've ever tasted. I'm pretty sure heaven has a midnight buffet full of this stuff. And I immediately started brainstorming what else I could mix into this delicious... mush.
A few nights ago, I added it to vanilla ice cream with a little granola (and more whipped cream, of course):
remember... what my scale doesn't know won't hurt it... right?
Today for lunch, I mixed it up with greek yogurt and granola (no whipped cream though):
... and I'm pretty sure that's what I'll be bringing for lunch for the rest of the week. Heavenly! I'm also considering some kind of cream cheese and pumpkin mix, and spreading it on toast may have crossed my mind once or twice. Really, I'm pretty sure that there is no wrong way to consume this incredible stuff. I'm already on my second batch, and have stocked up on pumpkin for the next several months weeks. I should probably warn Dan that by the time his 4 day pass rolls around, his wife may be exhibiting a bit of an orange tinge (like this guy?). I'm sure lucky we added that whole "in sickness and in health and in times of pumpkin obsession" clause to our vows.


May 16, 2011

Weekend Wrap-Up

I was all set for a quiet, calm weekend. I had very little planned and was looking forward to relaxing, catching up on sleep, getting some laundry done, tackling the mountain of dishes which threatens to topple over every time the cat gets close, and even doing a little crafting in all my spare time. Spare time? Ha. My weekend had other plans.
Friday night I headed over to have dinner with my dad and stepmom. They are about to start remodeling their kitchen, and I got to see all their new appliances (which are beyond gorgeous -- I'm so jealous!) and samples of the flooring, countertops, and backsplash. I think it's all going to look great once everything is in... I'm such a sucker for gorgeous kitchens, so now I'm counting the days years until I get to design one of my very own. My stepmom and I watched Black Swan after dinner, which we'd both been wanting to see (my poor father was less than interested but turned over the remote... he knew he had been outvoted) It was definitely intense, but to be honest I don't think it lived up to all the reviews I heard while it was in theaters. I liked it, but I think I was expecting to love it more than I did.
I had planned all week to go for a long run on Saturday, and when I finally got my butt out the door it seemed that the weather was actually going to cooperate: it was cloudy and cool but had finally stopped storming. I headed over to our local university campus, which is about the only place I know to run more than 5 miles without covering the same ground several times over. I was aiming for 8 miles (my longest to date -- baby steps, boys and girls) and was feeling fantastic by mile 5... which is right about the time it started to rain again. At first I assumed I'd have to pack it in and was pretty annoyed that I hadn't gotten in the mileage I wanted, especially since I was sure that I could make it three more miles with no problem. As I headed back to my car, though, I realized that I was kind of enjoying the little shower -- it cooled me off and chased everyone else inside, so the sidewalks were blissfully clear. I approached an intersection and had a decision to make: turn right and go straight to my car, about half a mile away, or go straight and take the long way back, which would get me up to at least 7 miles. I was just about to cross the road, going straight, when the sky absolutely lit up with lightning. I took a sharp right and headed for home -- fast -- and not 10 seconds later the little sprinkle turned into full-on downpour. By the time I made it to the cover of my car, I was absolutely drenched, my shoes were completely waterlogged, and I was sure my poor phone was a goner. Thankfully I had a towel stowed away in my trunk, so I was able to dry my phone (which amazingly survived the ordeal) and bundle up in an attempt to stave off pneumonia. I was really disappointed to only make 6 miles, but under the circumstances I had to give myself a little bit of a break. There's always next weekend!
I had a baby shower for one of Dan's cousins to attend Sunday afternoon, and in true form I had halfway planned the gift but hadn't made it out to do the actual purchasing. It's just so dang fun to shop for babies that I wanted to buy just about everything in the store, but I ended up settling on this classic:
This was my absolute favorite as a kid, and I hope that it will inspire a love of reading in this little one like it (and all the other great books my parents read to me over and over) did for me. I also snuck in a Starbucks gift card for her mama, because I know that she'll need the caffeine in the coming months!
Last night I went over to Dan's parents for dinner and to spend time with my lovely sister-in-law, who is in town with her kids for a few weeks. I got to meet my new nephew C, who has to be the cutest thing in the entire world. There is truly nothing I love more than holding a happy baby, and C and I spend the evening just grinning at each other. Adorable! His older brother and sister have both grown up so much, and it's really fun to see their little personalities start to emerge. I'm looking forward to spending lots of time with them while they're here!
So my quiet, calm weekend became a little loud, a little stressful, and lot... wet. But luckily I was able to get lots of sleep last night, which came in handy when I was slammed with work right as I walked in the door this morning. Thankfully, I have plans with a friend tonight for pasta, wine, and some much needed girl time!


May 13, 2011

Things I Learned Today*

*Actually, yesterday. Thanks for the maintenance, Blogger. Hope you got a lot done in that 20.5 hours. [Ok, it was annoying, but it's hard to be mad after this.]

Today was a learning experience... all 17.5 (waking) hours of it. Lest you all think I'm selfish, I decided to share some of these lessons with you. Don't repeat my mistakes, people.
 -- When a business meeting starts at 12:30 and the ending time is quoted as simply "long," eat lunch before it begins. Otherwise you will likely find yourself still sitting there at 5:10, fielding judgmental glances every time your stomach makes a sound like it might be considering eating itself. And really, the guy sitting just outside the board room window snacking on pretzels doesn't deserve your dirty looks.
 -- Always ask that question -- the one you're worried might be stupid but could be of consequential importance. Chances are, everyone around you is concerned too, but they're also too terrified of looking dumb in front of their colleagues. Either that, or no one else has thought of it, and speaking up could mean the difference between success and imminent disaster.
 -- No little wild bunny will let you sneak up on them with the intention to kidnap and force them to be best friends with your cat. They will tease you, letting you get just close enough to actually reach down, and then they will hop like lightning. Not fair. But true.
Toby, as you can see, is devastated.
 -- Just because one grocery store in town does not have canned pumpkin and "has been trying to get some in," but "cannot find it anywhere," and "will probably not be able to restock for a long, long time," does NOT mean that the other grocery store in town doesn't have two shelves filled with it. Thank goodness. My mental well-being is directly correlated to the number of cans of pumpkin in my pantry at any given moment.
 -- There is a (relatively bumpy) learning curve to quinoa. I attempted this popular new grain (it is a grain, right?) last night for the first time, and it's not for the easily frustrated. I followed the instructions carefully and ended up with a whole cup of uncooked, bone dry, stuck-to-the-pan mess. I immediately added lots more water and put it on the heat again, and this time it cooked but the finished product resembled soup. Do you know how difficult it is to drain something that is only slightly larger than a grain of sand?
 -- Garlic sprouts quickly. Almost -- almost -- as quickly as it burns. Keep an eye on it at all times... it's 7:00, do you know what your garlic is doing?
 -- Mushrooms saute much faster than onions. Add them to the pan only when the onion is almost done, unless mushy is your style.
 -- Creativity in the kitchen only gets you so far. Sometimes, even the most logical flavor combinations don't actually taste like you think they should.
 -- Dessert is always the best part of any meal. No exceptions.

Clearly I've had my fill of life lessons for a while. Has anyone else learned anything important this week?


May 11, 2011

Blind As A...

Yesterday I headed over to our friendly neighborhood DMV during my lunch break to get my name changed. I had specifically waited until late afternoon so as to avoid the lunchtime crowd and get in and out as quickly as humanly possible. The website reported that the current wait time was 6 minutes and 48 seconds, so I was optimistic. Ha.
The line just to get screened took over 20 minutes, and I was lucky enough to stand behind a guy who smelled of stale smoke and a uniform that hadn't been washed in the past month. A real winner. He told the guy in front of him that it was his fourth time there for the same thing, and then I listened to the woman behind the counter explain to him that he needed to bring in a receipt confirming that he had paid his ticket before his license could be reinstated. If I hadn't still been standing in line, I probably would have found it all very funny, but at that point I just wanted to get out of that building as fast as possible. As long as that didn't mean crossing paths with him again.
I finally got the paperwork and sat to fill in every detail of my life in the past 23.5 years (including the still-painful admission of the speeding ticket I got back in 2009... for which I may or may not have muttered a few choice words under my breath to that damn state trooper) I was eventually called to the window of an adorable little old lady with a horrendously color-blocked silk shirt and elastic waisted pants that didn't quite match. Endearing. She looked over my info and then instructed me to "look into that little machine thing and read the top line." I was a little surprised, since my license didn't actually expire until next year, but I wasn't going to argue. I stooped at an awkward angle and shoved my forehead against the lever to turn on the light.
And blinked. And blinked again. Line two was definitely legible. Line 1? Not so much. I struggled to focus and mumbled out a few possibilities. The sweet old lady interrupted -- "No no dear, line one."
I tried to look surprised and ducked my head for another attempt. I got through maybe 5 of the 12 letters before she stopped me again. "The top line," she said, "the very. top. line." I had to stop myself from glaring at her.
This time I made it through all 12 letters. The ones in the middle had been a little easier, but I was essentially guessing at both ends of the line. I looked up and she just shook her head. "Try again," she instructed, and her tone betrayed the slightest bit of annoyance. I gulped and went for it again.
She looked me square in the eye, exasperation now quite clear. "You don't wear glasses?" she questioned.
I managed to squeak a "No, ma'am" and quickly added, "I've never had trouble with this before." Likely story, said her expression. She explained that I had gotten only 7 of the 12 letters correct, which was not enough to pass the screening.
It was at this point that my hands started to shake. My parents both wear glasses, and my mom is convinced that I need them too (hi, mom!). But I've never had trouble reading, or seeing the board in class (even at the back of a lecture hall), or discerning things that are far away. My eyes get tired when I start at a computer screen all day, which I do every day these days, but I never struggle to see it. And once, years ago, I did have trouble with the vision test at a doctor's appointment. The next time I went in, though, I passed just fine and the nurse chalked it up to a fluke day.
By this time, though, my stomach was flopping around and my mind was whizzing. What is wrong with me? Am I blind and I just don't realize it? Have I been a terribly unsafe driver all these years, weaving down the highway and causing great peril for every carload of innocents who dared to venture into the adjoining lanes? And beyond this: what was going to happen? Would I have my license revoked? Would I have to hitch a ride back to work with the smelly guy who had gotten too many tickets? Would my father's unending patience be tested if he had to give me rides to and from work for the next month?
I must have looked like a frightened puppy, because the old lady gave a little sigh and said "Why don't we try you on another machine?" So I followed her down the row to a second set of eyeholes, took a deep breath, and looked through.
When I finished the line this time, having blurted out all 12 letters as quickly as possible, I was too terrified to look up. These had certainly been easier to read -- not exactly crystal clear, but significantly less blurred than the original machine. I gulped and peered up at my own personal Atropos.
"Perfect!" she clapped, instantly restored to her sweet, grandmotherly persona. And with a little flutter, my heart started to beat again.


May 9, 2011

And So It Begins

This weekend thundered through with a precarious harmony of cheer and dread. As much as I'd like to say we had a perfect few days, especially since they were some of Dan's last at home, I have to be honest: they were hard. And depressing. And strained. There were moments in which we were able to shove thoughts of the unpleasant near future into the farthest corners of our mind, but as hard as we pushed, we could never quite get them completely into the shadows. We both tried hard to smile and enjoy ourselves despite what we know is coming, but it was tough. In the end, though, what really matters is that he was home: time together always beats time apart.
We did manage to have a little bit of fun: we went out for a fantastic dinner Friday night with our friend C, who ended up spending the night on our couch and went to breakfast with us the next morning at our favorite little hole in the wall. Saturday evening Dan's brother and his girlfriend came over for dinner (I made our favorite pasta and the most amazing pumpkin cannoli) and a movie night. The four of us always have such a great time together, and it's sad to realize that not only is Dan leaving, but his brother is also headed off to college soon. I'm really glad that his girlfriend will still be here in town, so hopefully we can keep each other company!
Unfortunately Dan had to spend most of the day Sunday at work, and despite my super-ambitious goal to clean the apartment while he was gone, I found myself still in bed at noon, snuggling with Toby and trying desperately to avoid the real world. I did eventually get out of the apartment to meet my dad, stepmom, and grandmother for a yummy Italian dinner (I hope you aren't keeping track of how much I ate this weekend... I also ran quite a bit, so I'm just going to cross my fingers that it all evens out in the end). Dan and I met at his parents house to drop off his mom's gift, and then we headed back home so that Dan could pack... and pack... and pack. To me, that's always the worst part of any departure -- I can't count the number of times I've watched Dan pack for training while tears streamed down my face, trying to figure out how I was going to make it through the next few days, few weeks, or few months. Last night I held it together pretty well though, reminding myself of the days we still had together and willing myself to focus on the stupid movie on TV, not the fact that my husband was putting all the pieces of his life into bags so that he could send them across the world from me for a year.
The tears didn't come, actually, until this morning, when Dan woke me up at 5:30 to kiss me goodbye. They got worse when I rolled over, after I'd heard the deadbolt click, and found the sweetest Mother's Day card sitting on my nightstand. So I cried my eyes out, wondering how I would ever be able to say goodbye to this man for 13 months. Luckily I have the next three weeks, while he is away at training, to figure it out... and so I wiped my eyes, put on my shoes, and headed for the gym. If nothing else, I'll get a jump-start on burning off all the pints of ice cream and glasses of wine I'll be consuming in three weeks, right?


May 8, 2011

Silent Sunday: Mother's Day Edition

Today (just like every other day), I am so thankful for the moms in my life!

For this mom, who brought me my wonderful, sweet hubby...

for this mom, who is a little less mom and a little more amazing friend...

and for MY incredible mom, who taught me just about everything I know, was always there to encourage and inspire me (and give me a swift kick in the pants when I needed it), loved me even through my teenage years, acted graciously as a personal chef, chauffeur, and life coach, and has supported me through everything (and then some). I am so lucky!

Happy Mother's Day to all of you wonderful moms out there!


May 6, 2011

400 Days

People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.
[Abraham Lincoln]

As hard as I have tried to avoid thinking about it in the past few weeks (and trust me, I have tried hard), the fact that Dan leaves in less than a month just keeps catching up with me. Every single morning, the reminder that I am going to be essentially alone for the next 13 months smacks me over the head and then plants itself right in the pit of my stomach, where the gnawing makes it very hard to concentrate on anything else. Sometimes I'm able to talk a good game with my heart, half-convincing myself that I can do this, that it's going to be fine. Sometimes I go to bed hopeful, believing that 13 months isn't really that long and that it will all be over before I even have time to think too hard about it. Sometimes I can fool myself into thinking that if I only fill every minute of my time, keeping myself booked every day of every week, I'll be too busy to realize the volume of loneliness that I know is coming. But each time I get confident that I'm going to make it through those 13 months without being utterly miserable, I'm reminded of an event that Dan will miss, an activity that I'll have to do without him, or the fact that 13 months is, in fact, longer than an entire year (did you know?). And then I'm back to square one, trying to pick myself up and fighting the urge to simply stay in bed and eat ice cream and cry for the next year of my life (year-plus... because did I mention that 13 months is longer than a year? I know, I'm shocked every time I realize it too).
When the subject of the deployment comes up in conversation, some people point out that it should be easy, because Dan and I have spent so much time apart during our relationship. It is true that we've got a lot of experience in the long-distance department -- until the past year, he and I hadn't lived in the same town for more than 2 or 3 months at a time, and often we didn't see each other more than a few times a month. We've gone as many as 4 months without seeing each other at all (although that was 4 years ago), and we've even made it through 6 weeks with no contact except for letters (those handwritten things that you send with stamps... remember them?) and two phone calls. And while I have never agreed with the logic that the more time you spend apart, the easier it gets, I do know that we've made it through this before. It will be much, much, much longer this time around, but the idea of being separated by thousands of miles is certainly not foreign to us.
The new (and entirely unwelcome) part of the next 13 months? The worrying. I am a worrier by nature. I fret about anything and everything... and more. Saying that I will be anxious about Dan's health, safety, and happiness while he is away is a huge understatement -- I have accepted the fact that there are a lot of sleepless nights in my future. Luckily, I should be able to hear from him often, but I know that I am going to be a nervous wreck for basically the entire time he is gone.
All of this thinking stressing obsessing over Dan's departure, however, has made me realize that, for better or for worse, I have two choices: I can cave into the misery and essentially waste over a year of my life on something I have no control over, or I can accept that it's not going to be easy but do my best to make it through with a smile. On one hand,I know that it would be so easy to just give in and stumble through the next year in a haze, allowing the thundercloud overhead to drench me day after day. Yep, feeling sorry for myself and letting the loneliness overtake my life would be so simple. But I've never met a challenge I wasn't prepared to take on. So my goal for the next 13 months? It's simple: be happy.
I've been in a relationship for almost 6 years now, and I will admit that sometimes I think I've forgotten how to be happy on my own. When you have a boyfriend/fiance/husband who tells you he loves you, takes you to see girly movies, cooks you amazing dinners, sometimes allows you to be little spoon, and occasionally sends you beautiful flowers, it's kind of easy to sit back and let those little details create your happiness. I don't think that's a bad thing, but 6 years later when you're facing 13 months without the person who makes you happier than anything, it's a little shocking to realize that you're not really sure what else makes you happy. I know that Dan isn't the only thing that makes me smile (Dunkin Donuts' iced coffee is proof of that), but over the next year (-ish), I am determined to find new ways to cheer myself up and enjoy life. While I have so many people to support me and help me along, I know that it I have to take a little time to put myself first, and I think I owe it to myself to explore my own happiness
I'm not really sure what the next 400 days of my life hold. I do know that they are not going to be easy, and that sometimes I'm going to need a little time just to be sad. I know that they are going to feel incredibly long, no matter how busy I am, but that, in reality, none of them will take more than 24 hours. I know that there will be a lot of counting down involved -- until the next email, the next phone call, and the day that I get to finally see him again. But I also know that I am going to do whatever it takes to make these 400 days happy ones, despite the rather large obstacles to that. I know that they are going to involve lots of meals with family, lots of quality time with my netflix account, lots of miles of running, lots of laughs with friends, lots of furry snuggling (get ready, Toby), lots of nights curled up with a good book, lots of blog posts, and lots of cross-town trips just for my favorite coffee. These days may also require occasional bouts of retail therapy, big doses of comfort food, hot bubble baths, random dance parties, relaxing pedicures, massive bowls of pasta, Friends marathons, and ridiculous amounts of late-night baking. Whatever it takes, I'm committed to making each and every day worthwhile, combating the loneliness with everything I have, and making my happiness a priority.
For the next 400 days, a huge piece of my life will be missing, and not a day will go by that I will not worry about him and miss him terribly. But no matter what, I won't allow these days, weeks, and months to be lost in misery. I will fill my time with happiness, in whatever form that may take, and maybe... hopefully... I will learn a little bit about myself in the process.



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