Straight Christian Ally: Talking Points and Such

I just published a pretty intense post about the current gay rights debate going on right now – in the USA, amongst Christians, in the media – it’s everywhere right now.
Lately I’ve found myself tugged into countless online and verbal debates on the topic.  In case you missed my previous post, or don’t know me all that well, I’m a Straight Christian Ally.  Meaning, I love Jesus and try my best to follow His teachings, the Bible, etc., and I also support gay rights, including marriage equality.

thanks to tectonic movement for all of the images in this post!

I’m not alone in this either!
There’s a huge movement out there.  Sometimes known as “allies”  or “I’m sorry” – we’re growing every single day.  One of the bloggers I most respect, Tamara Out Loud, is an awesome mouthpiece for such shared ideals.  She recently attended a Pride Parade, and wrote about her experiences here.
LesBeHonest‘s Staight Ally Page: a variety of videos and quotes, great resource for allies here!
A random blog I found, that’s just one of thousands, that eloquently expresses the “I’m Sorry” aspect to this movement – this is Jeff Jackson’s Tumblr.
Towelroad, a blog with “gay tendancies,” posts some powerful images of apologizing Christians at a Pride parade!
The Atlantic on Gay Marriage and State’s Rights, it’s a bit of an arduous read, fyi.
The link party could go on and on – I just wanted to give y’all some starting points and spring boards.
In the post earlier, I quoted my Fb status from yesterday.  Well – here are some other gems that I’ve spewed onto the Book of Face in the past 24 hours about the issues at hand – quote me, copy me, emulate me, do what you want – I trust my words and intentions will be used in good faith, and if you have any doubts about it, just ask me.  I’m nice like that!

An  AWESOME and OPEN MINDED Fb exchange with a valued pal:
Leigh Palmer: No i know, but it’s not like there is a Chick-fil-A in Chelsea, they are mostly in suburban areas with lots of families, in the south. I could be wrong. ( I have no real research backing this statement up). Any thoughts Rose? I just mean, it seems to be that their customer base is more likely a young “Christian” family rather than someone who a more open mind.
Rose: You’d be surprised. For a few reasons:

Today, with the Internet as powerful as it is, geography isn’t a definer for political thought. The most rural SAHM can be on the up and up of social movements as fast as they’re happening.

Gay Rights and other progressive causes have infiltrated the suburbs. Claire Williams lives in one of the “gayest” zip codes in the country.

CFA is in urban and northern areas; The NYU campus being a major point of contention. Students at NYU voted to keep CFA on campus and it’s caused a huge stir given the locale and progressive tendency of college students.

The chasm of gay rights is causing huge division in the church. Everyday the “I’m Sorry” movement gains followers. More and more “conservative Christians” are waking up to the idea that hate is not a family value, and as such, change is happening. Hence why stalwarts are digging in their heels. They’re terrified.

Just look at Target. They were ousted for their support of homophobic politicians… and they’ve since recanted, donated money to progressive causes and issued apologies. The gay-supporting ban of Target wasn’t well-known or huge, but it was enough, because it evoked real change.

Rose (again): Don’t ever doubt your ability to be one voice that does matter – because to a big company like CFA – they’ve made their empire one sandwich at a time, and we can dissemble it the same way.
Leigh:  ♥ you Rose Duggan — thanks for reminding me of all of those things. 🙂
Rose: you got it girl!! love you too leigh, your honesty is awesome! i love that you aren’t afraid to ask questions!!
More random Fb gems from various threads: 
I love Jesus, and I’m not eating at Chic-fil-A. If you claim to love Jesus, get the hate out your mouth.

I’m just tired of “Christians” using a soap box to speak out from a place of bigotry.

Not all Christians hate. Some of us try to love everyone, just like Jesus asked us to. And I do NOT mean anyone personally in this thread – I mean the Pres and C-Suite of CFA. They’re comfortable projecting further the image that Christians judge and condone one another.

Love they neighbor. Judge not lest ye be judged.

I think the community works of CFA are amazing, really, I know so many people who’ve benefitted from fundraisers and money in their local communities. I also respect that they encourage family dynamics by being closed on Sundays – I truly love that about the company.

And I think their food is SO GOOD. I grew up on CFA. I crave that lemonade and those breakfast biscuits.

But.

At the end of the day this is 2012 and I am not okay with a corporation levying its public influence with such hatred.

 On the issue of boycotts being hateful and judgmental:
A boycott is a peaceful, legal, and proper way to engage in social criticism by voting with your consumer power. A boycott is NOT an act of violence or hatred.

This country is founded on a plethora of rights, including that of being able to express your ideals, freely, in a variety of ways. Being a capitalist society – the almighty dollar tends to be the vehicle that carries a belief the fastest.

I firmly respect anyone’s right to believe whatever they like – be that homophobic hatred or true Christianity. Or anything. That’s America, baby.

I just don’t have to use my money to fuel a machine that churns out vile, evil, hatred. A machine that donated millions of dollars to homophobic groups even in 2009. CFA is a massive consumer power – it’s ability to fundraise, lobby, and support the entities of its choice cannot be overlooked.

If you – this is the general “you,” meaning anyone – feels firmly that gay rights should not exist in this country and that homosexuality is evil, grab your picket sign and go to work. No one is stopping you from expressing an ideal or opinion. In fact, much like the SCOTUS upheld WBC’s right to hate away – I do the same for anyone. Just know that there are plenty of people, myself included, who don’t believe that same sex relationships are displeasing to God. And in fact – we go so far as to encourage them out of love, support, and kindness for our fellow man. Ya know… kinda like how Jesus asked to do so.

I truly understand and appreciate the local impact of CFA. I have so many friend who’ve personally testified to the greatness this one company can do for the location in which the restaurant is established.

But there’s something bigger at play here.

The President of a major company being so openly hateful – it’s just not okay. As good as their food is, as hard as the employees work, as much as they nurture and support the local communities they’re in – the damage of the power-wielding C-Suite is just too much.

If a boycott could effectively slice to their bottom line, I guarantee they’ll come back around hat in hand, singing a different tune.

Just look at Target. Same thing and they’ve come around, and now they’re trying to make up for their ways.

Andres posted a link to the NY Daily News along with this text:
“Over $2 million dollars donated to anti-gay organizations! They claim not to be a christian organization, and very supportive of the family, but only their definition of family. Well I can promise you that me and my non-biblically defined family will never be eating here again. Hate is not a family value.”
My reply:
THANK YOU! I’m up to my elbows in online debate right now… I’m SO FIRED UP.

This is NOTHING NEW. I’ve boycotted CFA since ’09 when I discovered that my money spent of delicious sandwiches was fueling the fire of hatred.

If you love Jesus, you have no business HATING others. That ain’t Christian at all.

….
On the issue of the south, particularly my home town, being tough to change:
I’m from Ormond Beach. And while I understand the stigma of the South being “set in its ways” – change can and does happen.

Florida was still a blue state in the ’08 election cycle.

With the Internet as it is today, physical geography is becoming less and less of a barrier to political thought and social movements.

Some of the “gayest” zipcodes in America are in southern states – like the northside of Jacksonville, Fl or Asheville, NC. Every single day the “I’m Sorry” movement gains followers.

And finally… it’s been done before. I know that Target is a farther-reaching company. But the boycott of Target did not get the viral attention this issue is getting, and yet that pressure was enough to elicit change. Target was caught supporting anti-gay political candidates in MN (the state of its corporate offices) and after public backlash the megastore issued apologies, pulled funding to such entities, and instead gave money to progressive causes.

More Resources?  You got it!
Chic-fil-A protest link party, here you can jump off to lots of info.
A crazy brightly colored page chock full of awesome talking points for the support of Gay Marriage.
Nation For Change – all you need to know about Marriage Equality!  (awesome awesome resource right here).
CanyonWalkerConnections – a ton of info and links for Straight Allies.
I could keep going, but really – I think this is tons and tons to get you started, right?
AS ALWAYS – Thanks for reading!  If at any time you have questions, concerns, issues, or more – reach on out and contact me.  This is a dialogue, a discussion, and it goes two ways! 
xoxo, hhr
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Guest Post from a Veteran: Please Have Fun On Memorial Day

To all of happyhippierose’s readers, Happy Memorial Day!

My wonderful wife Rose has asked me, as a veteran, to write this guest post, and I am both honored and humbled to do so.

our wedding day, april 17 2010

Together, with teachers and missionaries, Blacks from Charleston established a “May Day,” in 1865.  Memorial Day was established following the Civil War in 1866 to honor the fallen soldiers.  It was then known as Decoration Day.  Later on, in the twentieth century, the honor of this day was extended to American veterans of all wars.

Today, I write from my own experience and opinion.  Over the last six years, I have had the luxury of a wonderful support system not limited to, but comprised of family, friends, and my loving wife!

may 12, 2009: leaving for afghan – saying goodbye

afghan homecoming ’09

Having served as a Marine infantryman in Iraq, and twice in Afghanistan, my fellow Marines and I have endured the worst of the worst.  Terrible conditions, and unthinkable losses have been our experience.  The funny thing is that we have all been more than happy to do so.  As service members it is the reason why we decided to sign on the dotted line.  I now understand why “old people” watch their war movies, and silently reminisce.  It has been, overall, a completely life changing and (no matter how much we have all griped at times) positive experience.

echo 2-2, cax 2008

2nd platoon, echo company in iraq: 2008

In the days leading up to this holiday, it has been my observation, that some of my fellow Marines harbor feelings of anger and bitterness towards people who they feel might not fully grasp the meaning of the holiday.  With posts like “*$%& all the people who think it’s just another day off of work,” and “*$%& your bbq’s,” that I have seen on Facebook, I find it disheartening.

this one and many others have been passed around the interwebs this past week – some are nice, some are just negative and miss the point

I say enjoy your time off!  Live, laugh, and love with your friends and families!  Enjoy your BBQs, and drink your drinks!  I sure know that I will.  I will also ensure that I hold Rose a little tighter and kiss her a few more times during the day than usual, for I am grateful.  I am grateful to all veterans who have paid the ultimate price, those who have made that ultimate sacrifice for the precise purpose that we all have the freedom to enjoy our lives and loved ones all the more.  It is the gift that they have given us, and it would be in vain if we did not make the most of it.

smooching on memorial day ’10

afghan homecoming ’11

I hope that all of you out there have a wonderful Memorial Day holiday, and that you are near your friends and families!

….

From Rose: Special thanks to my hubs for all his service, dedication and for writing this post!

It’s with immense gratitude that I want to thank ALL service men and women, past and present for protecting all of the wonderful freedoms we know here in the USA.  Thank you!!  And to all the service families out there too – I know y’all do a lot on your ends, give up a lot, go through a lot too, so thanks to you all too.   To my cousin Chad and his fam, my Great Uncle John, my Aunt Edith, and all my dear friends in the military community: it is with so much love that I say Happy Memorial Day and thank for fun days like today!

Duggs does have a blog of his own, too.  He just hasn’t updated in a long, long time… go check it out and heckle him into posting more often (he’s a great writer, huh?).

I Am Rose’s Keeper is his blog.

As always, thanks for reading! xoxo, hhr

Running Into Tragedy

(Warning: sad content about a fatal motor vehicle accident).

Yesterday afternoon I went for a run.  Well, more accurately, it was a jog and walk mix up, doing three minute intervals of each.  Considering how sick I’ve been over the last few months and how little exercise I’ve gotten in (I haven’t gone on a run in way too long), I’m really rather proud of myself!

red faced and sweaty close up. yikes!

happy pooch on a run

It was a sun-filled, warm afternoon.  I wanted to get an idea of where I have to run around here, what the scenery and paths are like, sideswalks vs. grass, quiet roads vs. busy streets and so on.  I used my RunKeeper app to notice the mileage and keep track of landmarks – I now have a great idea of whereabouts my half-mile and mile marks are, etc.

these will be tall vineyards one day

on south roberts road, a little ways down from our house

The pooch was happy to stretch his legs.  The worst part about me being sick and not going for runs is that the pooch doesn’t get to go jog either.  Now, he’s had a lot of chance to play lately.  At the hotel in Hawaii there was a doggie park for him, all during our trip he got to hang out with other pooches and play, and without fenced-in yards – to go potty he was taken on walks.  So it’s not like he’s all cooped up… but the pooch LOVES going for runs with me.  He was so excited he pulled on the leash the entire time, to the point that it was straining and annoying.

exploring doggie

my jayjers

a little farm access road i found to jog down and get away from traffic

While I was out I had the music pumping, I took some fun snapshots with my iPhone camera.  I was really stoked for myself, exercising again, getting some sun, checking out my new home, etc.

a fun place to run, so green and open

I was on my way back to the house, jogging my last “run” interval when I looked further down the road and I saw a ton of dirt and dust clouding up into the air.  Traffic started backing up and I could see cars swerving and zig-zagging.  Something was wrong, and I could just tell.  It seemed like an accident.  So I took off in a sprint and tore down the road.

I am so out of shape, and I’m sore today already… but when I can tell something serious has happened, that lifeguard in me just responds and I sprinted the whole way there.  I got to scene and started yelling, “I’m an RN, is anyone hurt?”

I could see one conversion van, blue with handicap decals and a wheelchair ramp, just smashed to pieces and sticking out into the road at a weird, dangerous angle.  I saw a semi truck in the opposite lane pulled over, and who appeared to be the driver, trying to direct traffic.

a photo of the accident from observer today (link below)

From what I initially gathered, one man was dead and the other was fine – no one else claimed to have been involved and no one else said they were hurt.  The deceased was pinned underneath the rear axle of the blue van, and the scene was just horrendous.

Some volunteer firefighters on the scene started calling up more guys.  They said they would need a lot of help, and I asked if I should run home to get Duggs (“my husband’s a Marine – do you need him?” – “oh yeah, go get him now!”).

So I sprinted home as fast as I could, got Duggs and we hurried back to the accident.  It all happened a country block away from Nick’s house (where we live now) and we could see the whole thing from the end of our driveway.  By the time we got back there so many professionals were on the scene and taking care of everything, they didn’t need us at all and we were told we could go home.

we were really close to the wreck

standing in the driveway, looking toward the accident scene

Now.  I did take some photos with my phone.  I was worried that people were going to try and move the car or move the man, so since I was the first one on the scene with a camera – I just started taking some photos in case things weren’t left as is (I was just trying to do anything I could to help).  No.  I will not post those photos or share them.  I’m going to delete them actually, the officer directing the scene already told me he didn’t need them (it turns out they didn’t end up moving the vehicles or the man).

I went back home and I just felt so weird.  I was so sad for the man who died and for his family.  I know accidents happen all the time, people die everyday – but it’s sad when you deal with it firsthand, so up close.  And I was all mixed up.  I had been so happy, so excited to be out on a run – and now patting myself on the back felt weird.  It felt disrespectful or inappropriate.

But life has to go on, right?

I didn’t know the man who was killed yesterday.  I’m not suffering or grieving his loss.  But I know that many are, and that’s what makes me sad.  After we got back to the house I went out back to the vineyards and jogged, walked, prayed, and just cooled down.  I aksed God to bless the man who lost his life, to comfort his family, loved ones, the other driver and everyone involved.  Other than praying, I wasn’t really sure what to do.

happy pooch, running and playing

love the views of grape country

off leash running in back of the house, sprinting up and down the grassy access road between vineyards

Today in the news I saw the story about the accident.

Turns out the man who died was a very well-known and respected former public official: John Dillenburg.

john dillenburg, rest in peace – this is a photo of him they posted on the daily observer, from 1999

He’s been serving in government since the 70s, he was in the national guard and he went to State Ranger school out here.  His whole life he’s given back to his community and the people around him.  His wife of 45 years survives him, along with his daughter and grand-daughter.

Forty-five years of marriage.  Wow.

My heart breaks for his wife, and now I ask God to bring her comfort and peace.  I just can’t imagine what she’s going through.  I wish there would have been something we could have done, some way we could have helped or saved him.  But that’s not how this played out.  The only respite is that he didn’t suffer, it all must have happened so quickly.

Here’s the link to the news story, you can read all about his service and the work he did in this part of the country.

While I am happy to have gone on a run and to have worked out, I’m just left in an interesting state of mind.  I’ll take this experience as a call to appreciate life, to recognize how fragile we are, how fleeting and delicate life can be.  Each day is a gift, and every day we encounter so many blessings.

I’m in awe of God’s beautiful creation – coming from amazing Hawaii to wester New York, which although different in scenery, is another gorgeous, green, natural place.  I love living here so far, and I’m so grateful for my life.  I’m so grateful that I felt well enough to go running yesterday, that my husband and loved ones were alive and well at the end of the day.

Even on our worst days, there is so much gratitude to fill our hearts to overflowing.  Ever since having cancer, I try to approach and value every day as so special.  But it’s easy to get caught up, it’s easy to get into a routine and come to know distraction.

smiling, again – there’s lots to smile about and even more to be so grateful for.

So while yesterday is a tragedy and it’s sad, and the whole thing horrifies me and hurts my heart, at least I can try and take away some lessons.  A wake up call, a reminder, a poignant and painful lesson about just how precious every moment is.

I know I hugged Duggs much tighter than usual last night.  And I hope everyone who’s blessed enough to have your loved ones alive and well will do the same.  Be glad for all that you do have.

As always, thanks for reading my blog. 

 

i like balls

I like balls, Military Balls that is!

If you’re still thinking dirty (I mean, my husband is a Marine so I see where you could be going with this):  I’m talking about Military Birthday Balls! 

My hubs and I have had a busy Ball Season, attending a Navy Day Ball last month and his unit’s Marine Corps Birthday Ball this month.  We had a good time at both events, but for very different reasons.

The Navy Day Ball was at Turtle Bay, a beautiful and epic venue with amazing views and such good food.  We were also there with our great friends, the Tanners, and we stayed the night in the resort.  We just let loose and had so much fun.

The USMC Ball was nice, too.  It was our last one, ever, so it was a landmark event.  The venue wasn’t nearly as nice as the Navy Ball… the food not nearly as good, and there wasn’t any birthday cake at all. Ugh.  We didn’t stay all night and dance or party down, we just basically came for the ceremony and the dinner.  But, that said, we still had a nice evening and got all dressed up and enjoyed being out and together.

So here’s a random mishmash of ball pics, enjoy!

 

fall holidays

Fall Holidays 2011

So this year I didn’t really get pumped for Halloween at all, I’m having a tough time feeling autumnal in general.  I do admit: I’m starting to get pumped for Christmas.  (But that’s no surprise, I’m a Christmas fanatic! I wish it was Christmas all year long).  In an effort to go through the seasons chronologically and not just jump into Christmas-mode, I’m kinda squeezing out some participation for fall festivities.   Fake it till you make it, right?

Look, I made a festive workout log for the month of November:

nice!

I usually get crazy excited for Halloween.  This year, I hardly cared about it at all.  We didn’t dress up or go to any parties (and I’ve been saying for years I’m gonna go as Naughty DMV Employee or Naughty Cafeteria Worker, so it’s not for lack of costume ideas).  I made some Halloween-y cupcakes and I put them on a cute haunted house cupcake stand.

scary sweets

the scariest part is the calories!

Duggs and I did go to PCC”s “Haunted Lagoon” because our friends, the Tanners, invited us.  We also went to their house on actual Halloween night to pass out candy.   I’m glad that they helped force us into doing something and getting into the spirit just a bit.  They’re so much fun to hang out with anyways!

here's our group at haunted lagoon, waiting to go into the dinner buffet

me and duggs at haunted lagoon

me, a spooky monster, and ashley!

jj (dressed in tie dye) and bailey (in her adorable halloween sweater) hanging out while we handed out candy!

I think there’s a few factors.  I grew up in Florida, and while it’s not a place really known for it’s dynamic seasons, the four different seasons do exist.  Hawaii on the other hand… Now Hawaii is literally the land of eternal summer.

i snapped this photo at haunted lagoon... gorgeous, but not what you think of when you imagine "autumn" or "halloween"

It’s hard to get into fall without sweaters or leaves or anything fall-related other than the names of the months.

But, I’m trying.

I have put out a couple fall-themed decor items.  The kitchen looks seasonal.  So that’s nice.

our fall hand towels

seasonal pot holders

festive table settings

lovely!

And I am looking forward to Thanksgiving.  I LOVE Thanksgiving, it’s such a nice holiday.  No presents or stress, no madness.  Just people eating a dinner of epic proportions (love love love turkey and stuffing and pumpkin pie and the cranberry sauce out of the can that still has the can lines) and being thankful.  I love that part.  Every year my mom used to make us say three things we were thankful for.

It was cheesy, but really nice.  I’m totes gonna make my kids do that one day.

But food aside, I really love Thanksgiving.  It’s meaning, the traditions, how it’s something that brings Americans together.  I don’t care if it’s 90 degrees and sunny, I’ll totally get into the spirit of Turkey Day.

scams on servicemen/women and their spouses – be aware!

Scamming Military members and their spouses?  Oh no way, not if I can help it.  Let’s pass this word on and help each other be on the look out for terrible scams like these.

Friends: BE AWARE!

(As many of you know) My husband is a US Marine (and a grunt at that, sexy), we live in Hawaii where he’s stationed.  The FRO of his battalion just sent out this email warning of us a couple scams going on, specifically out here in Hawaii.

So heads up to my mil spouse friends, and to any Hawaii military spouses that happen to stumble upon this blog.

Ladies,

1. A company called Epic International, Inc. is selling CLEP/DSST exam prep materials at Pearlridge Shopping Center.

For our active duty service members specifically, this program is a scam.  Usually, these companies simply repackage free materials provided by SOC and DANTES, market to our service members (e.g. “Operation College Education”), and sell them at substantial cost.  It was reported that the company currently selling at Pearlridge charges around $2,000, however, these companies often sell various “packages” ranging from $2,000 to $4,000.  This is not new (see attached).

PLEASE PASS THE WORD: no Marine should pay for CLEP/DSST prep materials!  Between the Education Center and Base Library, our personnel get everything they need free-of-charge!

CLEP — the College Level Education Program — gives students the opportunity to receive college credit for what they already know by earning qualifying scores on any of 33 computer-based exams.  They can earn college credit for knowledge they’ve acquired through independent study, prior course work, on-the-job training, professional development, cultural pursuits, or internships.  DSSTs — DANTES Subject Standardized Tests — are similar in nature to CLEPs.  We offer both CLEPs & DSSTs at MCB Hawaii every Monday and Thursday in Bldg 219, Classroom 5.  Contact the Education Center at 257-2158 for more info.

2. One of our sister battalion’s families was contacted a few days ago by an individual claiming to be a Marine. He stated that the Marine had been wounded in action and he needed the Marines’ social security number to verify everything. He did not provide a call back number or much other information. The Marine was NOT wounded!!!!

I am providing you with a brief overview now so you have an understanding of the process.

a. If your Marine is seriously injured or wounded.  Yes, you will receive a phone call from HQMC(not the FRO or the Battalion Command) however you will NOT be asked to provide his SSN. HQMC will give you as much information as they have at the time and they WILL provide you with a number to call back (usually a form of the 800 number) to get more information or just to confirm that it was them that called.

b. You can call the FRO or the OOD to confirm however we are generally the last to the get the information so we may have to call someone to confirm. We are NOT provided medical information.

Thanks everyone.  Pass this along, keep an eye out, and report any funny business you detect going on to the proper authority.

he’s home!!! -our homecoming 2011 story

HAPPY HOMECOMING!!!

My handsome husband is home from his very very last and final deployment ever!  Could I be any happier? No, not really.  Here’s our lovely deployment-ending story:

He came home in the middle of the night exactly two weeks ago.  The homecoming event went so smoothly: the plane was on time, we had a classic reunion moment, and I had great friends by my side to help me out with the night.  I wore a giant crazy red, white, and blue outfit, and it was all just way too fun and sweet.  Homecomings are such a joyous event, whew!

Even though I had been so sick before he got home, I was able to pull it together and prep for his arrival.  The house was super clean, his presents were all wrapped and ready for him, the fridge got stocked with all his faves, the bathroom has new toothpaste and razors, etc., and I just took care of all those little details that make “home” so comfy, cozy, clean and quiet.  I mean, I even gave the pooch a bath! Well done, right?

the desk i build for him = one present, and all the wrapped boxes on top are the rest!

i went a little nutty with the streamers and decorations, so fun though

My gal pal Nicole (who’s hubby was deployed with mine, but he came home with the first group/advon) came over and she was the bestest.  She helped me do my hair, my make-up and she totally kept my mood light and anxiety-free.

here i am getting ready for the big event!

Yeah, I did my own nails.  They look good, right?  I grew those bad boys out for like two weeks.  I was so fancy.  I even had on tranny lashes for a while (they fell off and it looked like I had caterpillars attacking my face for a min).

eye makeup by *monster baby* - my friend rain's business, she handmakes powder eye makeup and it is amazing stuff!

all dolled up! my friend ariana made the tutu i'm wearing, she has a business *boutique bella* and her products are amazing!

Business shout outs:

I know that Homecoming is all about my hubby.  The focus is on him, his safe return from a combat zone and welcoming him back home after a lot of hard work… and I feel like I tried really hard to make it all about him.  But… well, it’s kinda about me too.  And I hope y’all don’t take that as selfishly as it may sound.  But I’ve had a hard time during deployment too, and I’ve worked it out and held in tough – so it’s a celebratory and exciting event for me as well, one which I think I deserve.  It’s a big deal for us, as a couple.   And since this is our last homecoming ever, I went a lil over the top for it.
We got to the Hangar on base where his plane would be directly landing.  Amazing!  I get to see my hubby’s plane land.  As the Marines and Sailors de-plane they’re given Hawaiian leis, greeted by a buncha Brass, and then they walk through the crowd and find us: their spouses, girlfriends, family members.   The Hangar is decked out with a GIANT American flag, homemade banners and signs, music is playing, and people are waving lil American flags.   There’s just this tangible excitement and anticipation in the air.   Truly a one-of-a-kind feeling and experience.
I picked up my pals The Tanners (Ashley and Jed) on the way so I had even more support with me.  Having good people with me during such a nerve-jingling time is awesome.  They helped make it fun!  And I’m so grateful for all the pics they took, now I’ll have these memories locked down forever and ever.

at the hangar, waiting for that plane!

nicole, me, and ashley - so grateful to have them with me

Our timing was incredible.  Only a few minutes after we got there, the FRO whispered in my ear that the little tiny lights twinkling in the distance weren’t stars, but the headlights of my husband’s plane.  I started pointing excitingly and the understanding that the plane was visible spread through the crowd.  Everyone huddled up against the gate, preening to catching a glimpse of the arriving aircraft.

The plane safely lands and one by one the Marines and Sailors rush out.  The multicolored sea of women and kids has suddenly become a giant camouflage body with hundreds of cropped haircuts bobbing up and down in waves.  Let me tell you, it’s so insane-o.  You’re standing there eyeing each and every guy thinking, is that him?  Nope, close! Oh man, I thought I saw him.  Is he the last one on that plane or what? Why do all Marines look exactly alike?

Finally, I see him.

I get teary-eyed even typing it out.  I see him.  He is home.  He is here.  I can see him.  This craziness called deployment is really over.  HE IS HOME.

there is my man, walking right towards us!

He doesn’t see me.  So I duck down and hide behind the people in front of me.  My friends are going to tell me when to pop up… almost, almost, he’s five feet away, okay, now! 

I jump out and surprise him! His face instantly lights up and we embrace.

first eye contact

our first smooch

Oh what a happy occasion!

Wanna see the video?  Go here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4a5styZ0x0

reunited and it feels so good

After the big homecoming shebang they all have to go the Armory and turn in their weapons.   I went home and picked up JJ and this is where they got to reunite for the first time.  It was so sweet.  Jayjers knew his daddy right away!

the pooch in his patriotic regalia

matthew petting jj for the first time - but it's too dark to really see, doh!

man and pooch at home

awww!

What an epically happy homecoming!  I am just way too blessed and so very grateful.  Now it’s time to get to be a family again, and start to put down our roots and actually get to start our life together.

I just want to thank all of my loved ones for the tremendous amount of support during this deployment.   Matthew and I have had an amazing group of people who have loved us and given us support in so many different ways – be it care packs, emotional support, letting me call the east coast at crazy hours, friends to keep me busy and help me stay positive, just everyone around us who has wished us the best and all of you who have kept us in your prayers: THANK YOU!!  We did it! We all did it together and now Matthew is home, safe and sound… I’m right by his side, sweet and as sane as I can get.

we totally rocked this one out!!!

 

my homecoming to-do list

As my husband’s deployment is winding down the biggest thing on my mind these days is, of course, HOMECOMING!  The window for his arrival opens in less than a month.  Less than a month.  It feels surreal to even type it.

HOMECOMING!!! HOORAY!!! 

For those who don’t know what I’m talking about:  my husband is a U.S. Marine, and he’s been deployed to Afghanistan since last November; “Homecoming” is exactly what it sounds like, it’s when he comes home.

Crowds of eager and anxious loved ones wait and wait (and wait, right? haha) in a parking lot, field, airport, or what have you for their deployed loved ones to walk out of a terminal or get off a bus.  “Homecomg” is hearing the band play, celebrating a safe return home and a job well done.  It’s craning necks, excited tears, running and hugging and never letting go.  It’s loud and happy, camouflage uniforms meshing with brightly dressed loved ones.  Music, banners, American flags.

To me, homecoming is that moment when I figure out which one is him (because in uniform, let’s not kid, they all look alike) and we make eye contact and head towards each other.  It’s him in those cammies and me all dressed up and we hug and kiss for the first time in a long time, and as I finally get the insane pleasure of breathing him in, I then experience the most relieving exhale in the universe: I know that he is real, he is home, he is safe, and he is mine.

Here, on Marine Corps Base Kaneohe, we are privy to an amazing Homecoming.  The planes actually land right here, on our airstrip, and we watch out Marines deplane, and we reunite in a hangar.  The hangar is covered in banners, the Marine Corps Band is playing, there’s a red carpet rolled up to the plane that our Marines and Sailors will walk down.   As each hero steps off the plane, a lei is placed around his neck.   I’m getting that anxious butterflies-in-my-tummy feeling just thinking about it.  I remember last time, when I saw that plane land, I just kept staring at it in awe thinking, he’s really sitting in there, he’s really in the same place as I.  It’s so surreal and awesome.

homecoming 2009 - me and my duggs!

Banners and first kisses aside, there’s so much more to a successful Homecoming than one may think.  There is a lot to take into consideration, and once the fuzzy excitement of that initial moment has settled in – there’s a lot of reality to face.  Adjustment can be weird, change can be hard.  Reintegration is a whole process unto itself, and every situation will be different.  But for now, I’m pumped for the fun and pizazz of that homecoming day – so here’s what I have to get done in between now, and then to make my lovely day all come together.

My Homecoming To-Do List:

  • clean the entire house, every inch of it
  • stock the fridge and freezer with stuff he loves
  • have some loose plans for things to do, but don’t get attached to said plans
  • figure out what i’m wearing, hair, make-up
  • prepare some small surprises for him
  • banner making
(NOTE: There are a lot of things on this list that are pretty non-negotiable – like cleaning the house.  But the biggest deal about homecoming to me is more than banners and outfits:  it’s going that extra mile to be very thoughtful, to make his transition from front lines to living room all the easier.   The most important part is LOVE and a genuine smile to welcome him home.  So as we go through my list, I’m not telling anyone that these are things that “must” be done.  It’s just my thing, its just how I roll for Homecoming!)
Clean the house.
I am going to give this house a real deep cleaning before he comes home.  One, so he can come home to a nice clean house.  And two, so I don’t have to waste our first days together cleaning.   He’s been in a tent for seven months and even though they’re super strict on tidiness, that sand gets everywhere. Grime gets everywhere.  Luckily, this specific deployment seems to be much cushier than previous ones he’s been on and I don’t think he’ll come home terribly filthy.  He’s had access to good water and laundry.  In deployments past, not so.   Regardless, clean = calm.  Clean is peaceful. He will come home to a lovely and clean home.
Every sink will have soap and a clean towel by it.  Every toilet will have backup toilet paper in a place where it’s easy to find.   I don’t want him to have to scramble around to find the TP, or a towel.  I don’t want him to feel like he can’t find anything in his own home.
I like to think about things from his point of view.  He’s been going to the bathroom in portashitters, or worse (let’s not go there).  Coming home and using a real American bathroom is a luxury and a half.  It’s likely one of the biggest things he’s missed.  So I’m gonna make it nice, easy to use, just stress-free.  He doesn’t want to spend his very first luxurious bathroom use all annoyed that the roll is empty, or he can’t dry his hands.  (There will be no can you spare a square? moments, lulz).  There are so many changes he’s experiencing right now,  I don’t want to make the man rummage around five cabinets for a clean hand towel, just have it ready for him. Common sense, right?  Agreed!
Food. 
I read this book about returning warrior psychology and it said that returning warriors all want three things as soon as they get home: beer, pizza, and sex.  And not in that order.
(It’s funny because it’s true!!)
I’ll have ice cold beers in the fridge.  If he comes in at a weird hour, I’ll make sure to get his fav pizza earlier that day – so if he wants to, he can heat it up.  I want him to at least have the option to eat it as soon as he comes home.    He’s already mentioned it a few times during our recent calls:  Bob’s Pizza (from Kailua), extra cheese/garlic/spinach/red sauce with garlic butter on the side.    My mouth is watering just typing it.
Maybe your husband’s “pizza,” is actually your speciality pot roast, and his “beer” is a whisky neat.  Just know his faves, and have them at the ready.
Have a couple choices as well.
I’m going to make sure snacks that he likes are available in the house, and I’m going to do the prep work for a few different meals all ahead of time.  I haven’t decided for sure what I’m going to make…  maybe I’ll cook red sauce the day of homecoming.  We can use it in so many different things, and it will make the house smell amazing.
I’ll bake some treats for him too!
Plans
Much like the food options, having too many or too little plans can be no beuno.  In some transitions, the troops are given a fair amount of time to sleep and rest.  They may spend a couple weeks in transition even.  In which case, they get lots of chances to sleep.  Or, your returning warrior may be riding on two hours of sleep for the last forty hours.  You never know!
Last homecoming, Matthew said he was very exhausted and that he just wanted to sleep when he got home.  The plan was to order in, watch movies, he intermittently naps, and while he does I just stare at him in wonder and awe because he’s actually in my presence, snoring away in the middle of an action movie I have NO desire to see.  (did that make you puke?  it kinda should have, haha).
What really happened is that he got home, and got very antsy.  All of a sudden, he had no mission.  There wasn’t anyone telling him where to be and what to do.  Which, in many many ways is lovely, and in some ways – it’s unsettling.  It’s weird. To go from 60 to 0 is hard.   So we ended up staying busy for a couple days, we went out and did some major shopping, drove around, ate out.  Finally on the third or fourth day he was ready to rest, and then we had some quality do nothing/lounge days (with terrible action movies and delivered food).
Like I mentioned earlier about the sleep thing – every situation is different.   Every deployment is different.  Travel plans and the transition process vary so much, it’s very hard to know ahead of time how exhausted or how energized each warrior will be upon return, so I’m not really expecting too much.  But just in case he gets super bored with the idea of just “hanging out,”  I have some plans in mind: we can go boating out in K-bay, go hiking, I can teach him how to tie-dye, etc.   If he’s ready to get out and be active, I don’t want to be all stressed out over thinking up ideas on the spot.
My Homecoming Outfit
At this time… I’m working on something.  It’s forming, it’s in the process.  Last homecoming, I had a dress made for me out of some very patriotic fabric.  I loved it so much!  I still love it and I use it for lots of occasions.  This year’s outfit isn’t finalized, but it’s all in the works.   (And since this is a family-friendly blog, I’ll leave the unmentionables out of this – but uhh, know that there will be specially selected unmentionables on under my outfit, yeah? *elbow nudge/wink*).
I’ll have the outfit, the hair, the makeup all figured out and tested ahead of time.  I’ll have everything set out and ready to go so as the time changes, I’m able to get ready on the fly if I need to.   And the time WILL change.  A 3am welcome home is not out of the question.
Wearing an expensive or fancy outfit is not the point.  But, he hasn’t seen you in person in a while, and this is kinda of a big deal.  I want to make our reunion special (and I want the pics to look so great).  So I’m planning my outfit/hair/make-up so I can look my best for him.    When he finally locks eyes on me, I want him to see the best version of me that he can.  And well, just life you dress nicely for an interview or a fancy occasion – this is special!  This isn’t grocery shopping on a weekday, it’s welcoming home the love of my life from war.   I want the outfit to rise to the event.   And like I said, seriously, I want cute pics.  Cute, patriotic, really fun pics.
Surprises / Presents
I do have a couple little “presents” I’ll give to him when he gets home.  Just a cute little something for him.  Just to be fun.  I don’t know how important this is – but my thinking is that I just want him to feel so special.  This is his day, his event!
I want him to know that I didn’t just throw on a dress and show up at the hangar – I have planned and thought about this special time.  Basically, I just want him to feel like his coming back home is a big deal to me.  And well, it is a huge deal!  I’m gonna gussy up the entryway a bit (I hope he doesn’t read this and get a heads up, haha), have some gifts for him, and just make the day he comes home not a regular ole day.
Banner Making
My wonderful hubbs has deployed three whole times, and he’s never once had a banner with his name on it to welcome him home!  So yeah, this year I’m making sure there’s a banner or two around this base that acknowledges him.  You know what?  Banners are fun, and awesome, and make people feel important.  Could you imagine if there was a big ole banner or sign with your name on it, announcing your arrival.  How regal! The king of my castle is totes getting the royal treatment.  Consider a hand-painted sassy-sloganed banner to be my way of rolling out the red carpet.   Again, it’s all about making this even fun, memorablem, important, and telling of how much his homecoming means to me.
We had the Battalion banner making party BBQ today, actually.   So I went and painting a lil somethin-somethin for Ole Duggs.

me. painting a banner. today.

Also, Build-a-sign.com does FREE printed signs for military homecomings.  Free!  My cousin Heather passed this link on to me, and my gal pal Lauren out here told me about it as well.   Military Build-a-sign Link.
In Conclusion…
This is all what works for me.  Every single marriage has their own way of doing things, and other people will have their own to-do lists, methods, and ways of going about it.  No matter what you do to get ready – the bottom line is that you’re prepping for HOMECOMING.  It’s happy, it’s awesome.  It means your loved one is almost done with deployment, and the amazningess of reunion is right around the corner.   However you handle the final lap, congrats to you for coming this far, the end IS in sight.
In regards to reintegration (the time of settling in and getting used to having your warrior home again), I’m using a common sense approach to preparing. But in reality, I’m not sure how much preparation can really go into it?  I think it just has to happen.  I’m going to do what I can to set us up for success, but really we’ll have to take every day one at a time and see what happens.  Patience, understanding, empathy, and deep breaths will all be really important during that adjustment.   And hopefully, things we’ll go smoothly and we’ll get our groove back nicely.
What do you have on your list that’s not on mine?  Got any great tips to share?  Tell me, tell me!

hausfrau, and doin’ it with gusto

Seriously.  I am such a hausfrau.  And now that I work at home… it ain’t getting better; I spend a lot of time at home.

And what better day than on this glorious “Military Spouse Appreciation Day 2011” should I pipe up about my wants and needs as a housewife on the homefront?  It’s not all bonbons and scrapbooking, sometimes I bake or dust or rearrange the furniture – and for this I have fashion-related needs.

This morning I was supposed to go on a hike with my girlfriends.  I got out of bed and I was all dolled up in a great hiking outfit: my husband’s silkies (these little green USMC running shorts type things), some tie dye, and mah hiking boots.  I was wearing almost-real clothes; ya know, real enough to wear outside, but not real enough for a job interview.  That’s about the closest I’ll come to “dressing up” for a while.

Then, due to inclement weather the hike was cancelled.  As soon as I got word that I was staying at home, I got re-dressed in my housewife finest and set about my day.  I wasted no time to get back into my green sweat pants, blue cami, and a robe (yeah, it’s totally the 1960’s in my house, I really wear a robe, who wears a robe?).  And as I was setting about my day (drinking coffee on the couch while giving my to-do list the side eye), I started to think man, I really need some new slippers. I can’t believe I still don’t have some decent slippers. 

For Christmas this year I bought myself one gift: a nice pair of Isotoner slippers.  They were not fashionable but they were soft and on sale at the Exchange on Base.  They were the little bootie kind, ya know?  All fluffy and fuzzy.  I liked them.  A lot.  Then when the whole maggot situation happened…. well, I had to throw them out. (Living in “paradise” has it’s downsides too.  Waking up to find maggots in your front hall is one of the downsides that can happen.   We don’t have to get into that now!)

So for the time being, I’m back to my old slippers, which aren’t very cushy and they’re more like house shoes.

these are totally what my isotoners looked like. except mine were an oatmeal color: way more ugly and boring than these fancy purple-ish ones. and every time i think of "isotoner," i think of ace ventura.

so here's what i'm stuck with now. oh the horror.

I don’t hate my current slippers, they’re just literally falling apart and have holes in them.  And my big toes can sometimes touch the tile through them. So now I’m sitting here having some coffee and wondering where I can milk a few dollars from the budget to get some fancy slippers.  And wondering where one even buys fancy slippers from.  I’m literally fantasizing about some kind of magical fluffy awesome slippers.

AND I’M HAVING AN ELABORATE INTERNAL DIALOGUE ABOUT SLIPPERS.   THIS IS WHAT I’VE BECOME!

Okay. So maybe I am devoting a little too much time to thinking about my housewear… but hey, whatever you are, do it all the way, right?  Go big or go home?  I’m a housewife and I do it with gusto!  I spend a lot of time in my home – I work from home now, I workout at home, I don’t party or have much of a happenin’ social life – so I watch Netflix on weekend evenings at home.  I am a lady of the home, so… I need fashionable homewear to do all this in!  Just like when I worked in an office and I was always pushing the limits of “business casual,” trying to add as much panache and flare to the drab cubicles as possible – now I want to make sure I’m pushin’ the limits with my homemaker garb.

this was the first photo i tried to take to show the slippers. yeah, i was TOO lazy to even stand up at first, so i tried to take my feet to the camera, haha. and i'm making a totally awesome surprised weird face. lovely.

So yeah.  This is all probably a really elaborate ploy to convince myself that spending money on new slippers is a great way to celebrate my “Military Spouse Appreciation Day 2011.”    A nice gift of cushy foot comfort to tell myself, hey – great job!

Oh, to my Hawaiian pals – I mean slippers like the fluffy soft shoes, not slippahs – the Hawaiian term for flip flops.  But I’m sure you’ve gathered that by now.  Especially since there were photos involved earlier in this entry.

Well. “The View” is on, so that’s my cue to wrap this up and devote my full attention to my ladies for the next hour or so.  But I think I’ve made my point here, right?   If you’re going to be a hausfrau – be one with snazz!!  And today is a day to honor ME in all my housewife glory, keeping the homefront all tidy and cute for my hubs while he’s away at war.  The least that I deserve  is some nice fancy slippers, right?

osama bin laden is dead! GOD BLESS THE USA!!!

I’m (obviously) not a reporter, so this isn’t a news story.  This is just a way to bookmark my life, to post where I was in this amazing moment.

I’m on the phone with my mom.  She just said in my ear, “finally! Thank God. I’m so glad. Wow.”  <– and that’s been about the extent of our conversational skills.

This evening I was on my distance run with the pooch, we were about 30 minutes from home when my friend Ariana texted me, “have you seen the news?”  I got that pukey feeling.  My husband is deployed, and I know weird stuff has been happening in Afghan this past week.   I slow down to this weird jogging hobble so I can text her back, “no.”  I’m all nervous, not knowing what she’s about to tell me.  I start running again, and I hear the text message sound through my headphones.  I pull my running strap down my arm so I can see the screen of my iphone and I read Ariana’s text: “bin laden is dead.”

I just stopped right then and there.  I was stunned.

I finished my run, came home and put on the TV and turned on my lappy so I could catch up on all the hubbub.

HOW EXCITING!

Praise God, this is just so incredible.  I want to thank every service member, intelligence agent, every person who died on 9/11, and every person who’s lost a loved one either on 9/11 or the days since.  As a nation, so many people, in all walks of life, have been so dedicated to this cause.  And I am just so proud to have done my small part as a military spouse, and just as a citizen.  We did it, USA!!

A lot of my friends have been getting political on FB.  Dissecting Obama’s speech, being critical of the wars we’ve been in, speculating about retaliation.  I don’t care about those nuances right now.  I’m not letting anything tarnish this high.  We deserve this feeling of elation.  We deserve this victory, so I’m going to just revel in it and enjoy it.   I’ll come back down to the ground tomorrow.

I hope I never forget how this feels and where I was.

I LOVE THE USA, and I have never been so proud to be an American!!

stretching after my run, talking on the phone to mom with the news on mute

My mom just said, “I’d like to shake the hand of the guy who blew him away.”   Me too!  I’d love to tell him thanks.   I can’t wait to find out more details about the special ops mission that brought him down.  The vague details I’ve heard so far sound incredibly badass and awesome.   And for what it’s worth I loved Obama’s speech tonight when he broke the news.  And I found George W. Bush’s statement to be really eloquent.  From both sides, celebration is deserved!!

BIN LADEN IS DEAD!!!! HALLELUJAH!!