Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Deployment Tales: Initial Feelings

I knew I wanted to do something military-related in correlation with my husband's third deployment, but I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. So I kind of came up with this on a whim - I'll post at random with whatever I want to get off my chest and share...whether it be just a rambly post like this one or a "theme" so-to-speak.

This first week of April was spent in Knoxville visiting family on leave because normally you get some kind of "vacation" prior to deployment. Then it was literally biting our nails to hear when his date was.

He found out his date and he told the kids. Matthew reacted in the way that I thought he would - he tried to act nonchalant about it and keep himself from crying and then went and hid to cry to himself. Cami had the reaction I thought she would too - completely unaffected. He switched into his multi-cam uniform on the 15th. Not the biggest fan of this because 1) it's ugly and 2) it meant he was going to be leaving soon.

I personally have had little cries here and there - especially in the week leading up to him leaving. I was still debating whether or not to go and hang out at the hangar waiting on him to leave. That for me is probably the worst part. The first deployment, the kids and I were living with his mom out of state, so we didn't go. The second deployment, we did and when Nick came back from the bathroom, the kids ran up to him yelling "Daddy!" and I lost it. I ended up having to leave shortly thereafter because I was pretty much the only person crying and after the kids did that...I was a wreck. Nick ensured me that everyone else cried when they left, but still...couldn't hold it together. Even typing it up makes me teary-eyed. It's painful to watch your kids suffer through a year without their dad. So this time around, I really didn't want to go hang out in the hangar and draw out the goodbyes for a really long time. I wanted to just say goodbye, head home, and start the deployment, so we could go ahead and get it over with.

This deployment has given me a kick in the ass to do something to kill time. Not all the battalion deployed, so a dual military couple, who has been up here nearly as long as we have, is staying stateside, and I've made another really good friend who will be here during deployment. We are excited for the summer and plan on hiking, camping, etc. Plus I have other plans that I will post about later.

We woke up at 4:45am and headed out at 5:30am. The sun was already coming up. Nick had to go with his bags into the hangar while we parked and headed in. We had to wait around for about 15 minutes because he had to check-in his carry on and some other stuff. Then Nick came up and got down on the kids' level. Matthew immediately starting crying and then I started crying. I hate seeing my little man hurt :( Once Nick got him calmed down, Matt kept talking to him and holding his face between his hands. We walked out to the car together just like last time and Matthew and I cried some more. Nick started to leave then ran back to the car to chug his travel mug of coffee. We got home around 6:20am. We ran errands later on [grocery shopping, sending out some tax stuff, etc] and Cami was so bratty. Matthew was okay.

It's been a weekish now and it's been hard. Matthew has been really emotional [crying any time you say daddy or try to talk to him about deployment] and Cami has been REALLY bratty [tantrums, attitude, etc] which is completely out of character. This has been especially taking a toll on my patience and I've yelled at them both way more than I should. I jumped right into the routine that I wanted to be in and have been doing so much stuff - and I think that has really shocked Cami, who is not used to so many errands. So I'm working on evening out everything - taking things a little slower and being more patient with both of them. It made me feel so bad when I realized how much I was ignoring how their feelings.

I think that's all my rambling brain can think of.

Oh! I made an #ArmyWifeLife board on Pinterest, so follow if you want!

hoo hoo!

Monday, April 29, 2013

BOB 7.0 & The Sunny Summer Swap

Sign ups for Bout of Books Readathon are going a little differently this time around, so I'm declaring right now - HECK YES, I'm participating!

Bout of Books

Want to know more about BOB?
The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 13th and runs through Sunday, May 19th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 7.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

Guess who's back? Back again...
Sorry...I feel like most of my blog posts start out as songs...not sorry!

Anyways! Amber, Melissa, and I are back for another swap. We're broadening out from last swap's book & polish - this swap is all about summer! So your box can be filled with...
  • flip flops
  • your favorite self-tanner
  • sunglasses
  • sunhat
  • a good summer read
  • bright nail polish
You get the idea! Something that screams summer :) Spending limit is $25 - swap is for US residents only since shipping to other countries is getting so pricey - sorry for all those who are not in the US :(

Here's the important dates:
Sign ups close: 14 May
Emails go out: 15 May
Send package by: 1 June
Reveal Day and Link Up: 10 June

[Stealing from Melissa's post]
Need some ideas? I thought you might. I went to Target the other day to get some ideas from summer must-haves. Your swap box can be filled with whatever you want:
A good summer read, your favorite summer nail polish (think bright, fun colors), self-tanner, sunscreen, magazines, makeup (summery shadows, lipglosses, bronzers, etc), lotion, summery fragrances (Bath & Body Works type stuff), anything coconut scented, favorite tea or summer drink mixes, sunglasses, a cute sun hat, fruity bubble bath/shower gel, stationary items- notepads, mini calendars, to-do lists, etc, flip flops or inexpensive sandals, beach tote, beach towel, picnic blanket, can koozies (beer/soda can coolers), jewelry- earrings, necklace, rings, bracelets, etc, a light-weight scarf, hair accessories (clips, headbands, wraps, etc), beachy candles or Scentsy, summer-themed picture frames or wall art, grilling accessories, bright kitchen accessories, plastic margarita glasses, colorful wallet or clutch, bright colored tank top or sun dress, gift card

Mark these dates somewhere on your calendar, and check your email often- even your spam or junk folder. Lots of blogger's emails end up in the spam folder (maybe because we send out so many? Who knows!)  Emails will go out on the 15th, so keep an eye on your inbox for a message saying Sunny Summer Swap or something similar.
Follow the hosts on Twitter to stay up to date on swap stuff!

We'll be tweeting updates & love connecting with you guys through social media!
Use the hashtag #SunnySummerSwap when tweeting all things swap related :)
Once swap partner assignments are sent out, get moving! Don't let that email sit in your inbox without replying to it. Get in touch with your partner ASAP! Say hi, introduce yourself, follow each others' blogs, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc and get to know each other a little. What does your partner like? Does she like to read? What's her favorite color? Is she a nail polish fan? Does she drink tea or coffee? Does she live somewhere warm? Ask some questions and check out each other's Pinterest boards or Goodreads lists for swap ideas.
Once we email swap partners assignments, it's in your hands. How this swap turns out is entirely up to you and how active/social you are with your partner. You have to take the initiative and contact each other- communicate! Let her know when you ship her package (give her the tracking number if you can!) Tell her if you're having problems finding something for her. Ask questions and keep each other informed. You can't expect to have fun with this swap and have a good experience if you don't actually participate, so have fun and don't be shy! This swap is all about meeting new bloggers.

Sign up HERE

Grab a button and share!
Fortune Favors the Brave

hoo hoo!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Downtown Grill & Brewery [Restaurant Review]

A while ago, my mom-in-law sent up a pint glass from this place in Knoxville, TN [where we're from] called Downtown Grill & Brewery. I've made it a new goal that each time we visit we find something new. Since we visited right before Nick deployed, I wanted to make sure we got a date in. We normally only go on dates when we're home and family watches the kids. Plus there is way more to do in Knoxville than up here at Fort Drum. So I wanted to do something extra special since it'll be a while before our next date - so we took a trip to the SawWorks Brewing Company Headquarters and then out to dinner. Since DG&B is near SawWorks, I decided we should go there too AND it also has to do with beer :)

I was honestly really disappointed with SW, so we only stayed for like 10 minutes and headed out for dinner. Downtown Knoxville can be really awesome, but I've never really had the chance to check out everything down there. We had no wait when we got to the restaurant even though it was very packed! It seems like such a popular joint!

The atmosphere in Downtown Grill & Brewery was very relaxing. It was one of those darker type of restaurants. Our server [wish I caught his name] was so friendly and incredibly awesome. He actually talked to us for a good bit each time he came to the table. The menu - WOW!! Nick and I have never sat for 20 minutes to try and figure out what we wanted to eat. Every single item on the menu looked like something amazing. Nick had a hard time picking what kind of craft brew he wanted to try too. Plus the whole menu was full of really funny descriptions and jokes :)

Nick tried the German Alt first - and while I'm not a beer drinker, it was very good. The second beer he tried was the ruby red New World Porter. Below is Nick showing me the color and talking about it. LOL We decided right before Nick gets back from deployment that I'm going to brew a batch of beer. He wants me to make up my own recipe and this beer right here was my inspiration. Instead of a crappy beer aftertaste, it literally tasted like you just bit off of a chocolate bar. It was the most delicious beer I've ever had. So I'm definitely going to try my hand a chocolatey porter like this one...with my own added touch.

For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to try an actual piece of tuna, not just the canned stuff. Nick is the same exact way. Neither of us are big on seafood though. Nick was the first of the two of us to grow a pair and try it out. He ordered the Blackened Ahi Ahi. He let me have the first bite, since he "accidentally" took the first bite of my food. The Ahi Ahi is one of the very best things I have ever eaten. Absolutely mouthwateringly GOOD.
I finally decided upon the steak fajitas it came with 5 tortillas and fixings [including fresh pico de gallo], refried beans, rice, and then I ordered a side of fries. Nick teased me because my food took up a good 2/3 of the table. I don't know what they did to the steak, but oh my good lord, *DROOL* - I just can't believe how good all of our food was. Not to mention the amount of food we got for their prices.

Overall, this is definitely a place we will be visiting every single time we go to town. The atmosphere, service, food, and price was outstanding. We had nothing but good things to say about it. If you are ever in Knoxville, CHECK IT OUT! Go there! :)

hoo hoo!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Design: Lulu & Sweet Pea

This should be a name y'all are familiar with if you've been reading my blog for any amount of time: Melissa of Lulu & Sweet Pea! Melissa is one of my bff's and part of the most epic bloggy trio ever [her, Amber, and myself, of course].

She had recently gotten a new design that she wasn't the biggest fan of...and it took like 3 months to actually get it. So she asked if I would mind sprucing it up a bit. The new design wasn't actually much different from her old one, but the changes were not ones she liked.

She wanted her blog to be mostly blue and grey, her sidebars to be equal, and to get rid of some her clutter, but still keep all the information up.

She let me go a little crazy and give her a patterned background to give her blog a little color. I used Dead Hardy, My Own Topher [for the ampersand], and Things We Said for fonts.


Check out Melissa's new design live - and make sure to check out her blog too!

hoo hoo!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Family Pictures 2013

Before Nick's first deployment, we got our first set of family pictures done. We wanted to wait until Cami was born to do so and then we finally got around to it when she was 8 months old [Matthew was 19 months old].

We didn't get pictures done before his first deployment to Afghanistan, so when we got block leave in the end of March/beginning of April, I made sure to make an appointment to get family pictures done again. Our babies aren't babies anymore - they are 5 and 6!

The photographer at Portrait Innovations was amazing - it's where we went last time - and the kids were so well behaved. It took us all of 20 minutes and we were done.

My favorite of the family pics...

 We always get one of just Nick with the kids.

My favorite shot of the day - and I think pretty much everyone else's favorite too :)

And the funniest of the day - Cami really wanted to take a picture in the red rocking chair and they both waited until the very end - where we said "Okay, all done" and they asked if they could derp. S,o of course, we absolutely let them! They were so good during the rest of the pictures. We said we should just hang this picture up and claim innocence when people look at it like our kids are crazy :)
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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Selection [Review]

#1 in The Selection series
339 Pages [Kindle]
Published 24 April 2012
ASIN: B006564VQC
Find on Goodreads

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Rules [Review]

#1 in Project Paper Doll series
416 Pages [Hardcover]
To Be Published: 23 April 2013
ISBN: 1423153286
Find on Goodreads

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Pushing the Limits [Review]

#1 in Pushing the Limits series
397 Pages [Kindle]
Published: 1 August 2012
Find it on Goodreads

"I won't tell anyone, Echo. I promise." Noah tucked a curl behind my ear. It had been so long since someone touched me like he did. Why did it have to be Noah Hutchins? His dark brown eyes shifted to my covered arms. "You didn't do that-did you? It was done to you?" No one ever asked that question. They stared. They whispered. They laughed. But they never asked.

So wrong for each other...and yet so right.

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal. But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.


My Thoughts:
Echo is a senior in high school who is just trying to make it through the rest of the school year. Her sophomore year of high school, she was in the popular group and had a boyfriend. Then something happened that her mind won't let her remember that turned her world upside down. She returned to school as an outcast. No one would talk to her, just whisper about her new scars and how she got them. Most thought she tried to commit suicide. All Echo remembers is that it had something to do with her mom who her father and nanny-turned-pregnant-stepmom have a restraining order against. Not remembering what happened with her mom plus the loss of her older brother who was killed in combat in Afghanistan, Echo needs someone...anyone...because she is alone.

Noah is part of the system. He lost his parents in a housefire and was put in a foster home. He's a typical bad boy womanizer with lots of inner turmoil and secrets. He used to be a very bright student that excelled at everything, but after losing his parents, he let all that go. To get back on track, the school's new social worker insists that he has a tutor. His tutor is one of the brightest kids in the school and also in dire need of a job to fix her late brother's car...you guessed it, Echo!

Katie McGarry writes a great book. Her characters had depth and their story evoked many feelings from me and a need to find out what happened next. I am a freak for stories with any kind of amnesia and the way this memory loss was recovered in bits and pieces had me at the edge of my seat. Echo was easy for me to like...and connect with, as was Noah. I felt like the back and forth extremes of their relationship was honest and realistic.

Personally, the only thing that threw me off was the pothead part. I've never heard of a stoner refer to weed as "pot" and I giggled a bit at that. The "killing brain cells" cracked me up too. I would hate to think everyone who is using it for medicinal purposes is also killing their brain cells...*off my soapbox*

*Disclaimer: I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Previous Review:
Key Lime Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke [here]

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Key Lime Pie Murder [Review]

 *3.5 stars*
#9 in Hannah Swenson series
379 Pages [Paperback]
ISBN: 0758210191
First Published 1 January 2007
Find on Goodreads

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Dead Witch Walking [Review]

#1 in The Hollows series
413 pages [Kindle]
First Published 1 July 2004
Find on Goodreads

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Silver Linings Playbook [Review]

302 Pages [Kindle]
Published: 21 April 2010
Find on Goodreads