Chugga chugga blue spruce was Goalielocks’ rally cry every time he saw a blue spruce during our first trip to Utah. Blue spruces had somehow become his favorite tree, so naturally, he felt the need to call our attention to every tree he spotted in the Wasatch mountains. Consequently, when I saw spruce was the word of the day it brought back great memories.
It’s funny how a word can usher in a tide of memories. Our first trip to Utah was so much. We were a motley crew hiking the Wasatch Front for the first time and making a few mistakes. I’ll never forget hiking the wrong trail in triple-digit heat with minimal shade and a big altitude gain. I tapped out before the summit. Obviously, we learned our lesson the hard way. Thou shall start with an easy hike when first hiking at over 5,000 feet above sea level in the summer heat.
After that first brutal, yet beautiful, hike each trek got successively easier. To be clear, there weren’t any really easy hikes outside of Donut Falls. The Donut Falls hike would have been a perfect first hike. Every hike was an adventure that trip and it led to a love of hiking. I found myself being at home on the dusty trails of the Wasatch mountains. I loved being immersed in the national forest deep in Big Cottonwood Canyon.
It’s funny how memories work, but I’ll take it. The word prompt spruce took me back to the Utah trips with my boys, Melly, and my folks. That first trip, in particular, will always be special to me. It was our first adventure in the mountains and the greater Salt Lake Area. It’s the trip where my boys and I discovered our love of hiking, lavender lemonade, and Goalielock’s love of blue spruce. I am hopeful the boys and I will get at least one more trip out West before Jake moves again.
Well, I’m back at it and not happy about it. This back-to-reality bullshit is for the birds. I’d like to go back on the holiday vacation with the family. Naturally, the first day back at the office after a long absence is always difficult. Today was no exception. Unfortunately, technology did not want to cooperate with any of us today. This made for a frustrating day all around.
It could be worse I guess. I could still be at my old job, which was pure misery. I remember when I left Progressive how happy my hubby was that I’d stop talking in acronyms. And then I started at Kaplan University and it was back to the alphabet soup he so hated. Fortunately, my current company doesn’t speak in acronyms, so he no longer has to worry about that frustration. Nonetheless, I’d love to see the measly lead flow improve back to 2022 levels.
Despite my frustration, I chose to move forward full of optimism today. While I may not have had the best day, it wasn’t the worst. Moreover, I’ll continue focusing on improving daily and hitting my goals. I used to meditate in the morning to a quick sales meditation I found on YouTube that was really effective for me. Unfortunately, the video has been removed. Consequently, I decided to write out my own sales mantra meditation. I’m toying with the idea of filming it, so I can listen to it while I sit in legs up the wall pose (Viparita Karani.)
Today I hit all of my goals less my personal sales goal. My two-mile run went okay. My lungs are still a bit tight from the lingering head cold/sinus/allergy bullshit, so that’s fun. After work, I completed day three of the yoga challenge. Today’s practice was a sixty-minute Hatha class, which I really enjoyed. It was not overly strenuous, but it wasn’t overly chill either. Truly, the instructor struck a really good balance between building strength and relaxation.
Lastly, today’s bloganuary prompt is what is the earliest memory you have. My earliest memory is of saying goodbye to my grandma and grandpa on my mom’s side. I think it was late summer or fall as we didn’t have jackets on. I wasn’t quite two yet, which I know because my clearest early memory is of my grandfather passing away from a heart attack. He passed away eight days after my birthday on my grandma’s birthday. Forty years later I stand in awe of my grandma’s grace, resilience, and faith. When times are tough, I remind myself I’m cut from the same cloth. Anyways I’m back at it.
It’s that special out with the old in with the new time of year. Personally, I can’t wait to wave 2022 goodbye. At the same time, there were definitely some bright spots, 2022 of as an emotional roller coaster punctuated by gut punch after gut punch. Unfortunately, I know I’m not alone in this. 2022 was a rough year for so many people that we know and love. To say I’m looking forward to the hard reset that the new year new you offers would be a vast understatement.
One of the highlights of 2022 was Goalielocks’ graduation from high school. It was fun to take part in all the end-of-year/end-of-high school rituals that go with graduation. My folks and Luke’s dad stayed with us for the week. Unfortunately, my older brother and his family couldn’t make it due to the late scheduling by our school district. Nonetheless, it was a great time to celebrate Goalielocks and an important right of passage.
Second, we went to the Bahamas to celebrate our friend’s 50th birthday. We had one rainy day, which was okay. It gave us a much-needed chance to chill. Goalielocks and TK enjoyed their newfound ability to legally drink and gamble in the Bahamas. Both boys came away with some great memories (albeit some may be fuzzy) and some extra cash courtesy of the casino. They also enjoyed a wonderful dinner at Nobu to celebrate the birthday boy. It was a wonderful trip.
No sooner had we gotten home from the Bahamas when we turned around and headed west. Jake was home!!!!! I can’t even tell you how excited I was to see my boy. It was like the anticipation of first seeing your BMT graduate tuned up to the nth degree. I had hoped he would be home in time for Goalielocks’ graduation, but current events and world leaders had other ideas. Nevertheless, that first post-deployment hug hits differently. I think Jake worried I’d never let him go. But honestly, would you blame me if I didn’t let go?
The boys and I spent ten days out west hiking and getting Jake re-acclimated to live in the US. There were a couple, okay, maybe a few unpleasant surprises awaiting him stateside. The cost of living had soared tremendously while he was overseas. Particularly, gas prices, rent, and food prices were problematic. His post-deployment rent was almost double his pre-deployment rent. It was absolute insanity. As always, we had a blast exploring and hiking Utah.
In August, we took on Arrow as a foster through Justin Bartlett Animal Rescue. As was the case with Anakin, Arrow is another foster failure. We simply fell in love with the adorable puppy and couldn’t bare to see him go. We loved his name, so we left it as Arrow. Athena took to him immediately. Unsurprisingly, Anakin was slow to warm up to the idea of a little brother. I have the feeling that somewhere Maya is getting the last laugh as she watches Arrow harass Athena and Anakin as they harassed her.
Perhaps one of the most exciting wins of 2022 was that I finally lost my thyroid weight. It was quite the battle and took over four years, but I did it. I’m so grateful for my wonderful endocrinologist and primary care doctor, who have both guided me through this Graves’ nightmare compassionately and effectively. Honestly, I’m keeping it a bit broad here as I’ll give into it more in my post tomorrow.
Finally, the holiday season has been fantastic. It was a complete blessing having Jake home for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. Moreover, I love having my parents here. Anakin, who doesn’t like people coming to the house, finally took to my parents on this trip. In fact, he started to greet them and open the gate for them in the mornings. Of course, the piece de resistance of this holiday season is Jake and Melly’s engagement. I love them dearly as a couple and am so glad she’ll officially be part of the family. Tonight we’ll celebrate the out with the old and in with the new (aka the new year.)
The engagement photos are in and they’re absolutely perfect!!!!! Jake and Melly had their engagement photos taken yesterday by Julianna of Murano Media. (If you are local to South Florida and need photos, I’d highly recommend using Julianna’s services.). I had planned to get them photographs as an engagement plan for quite some time. Unfortunately, there were a lot of unknowns about timing that made it difficult to plan. Fortunately, Julianna came through in a pinch.
The kids met Julianna up at a nature preserve in Royal Palm. South Florida has some incredible setting for photography. This venue was no exception. For the uninitiated, the Everglades and surrounding area are exceptionally beautiful especially at sunset. Julianna blew us all away with her professionalism and efficiency. It was an awesome experience!
As of this afternoon, the engagement photos are in. They’re just incredible. I don’t think I’ll be able to pick a favorite anytime soon! Of course the photos came in while I drove back from our trip to IKEA. We spent the morning frolicking in the Swedish behemoth of a retailer getting Goalielocks ready for his move. I saw the text come in on my watch and was super anxious to get home and check them out.
Today’s accountability tracker:
Workout: Sweat HIIT beginner week 4 full body workout. I was a bit wheezy this afternoon, so I skipped the run to give my lungs a break.
My holiday break is over, so I’m back. Well, at least I’m back to blogging. Fortunately, I don’t have to return to my day job until the third of January. While I’ve been off, I’ve been nursing a Christmas cold/allergy misery. Unfortunately, this mean I also had to take a break from running and working out. Thankfully, I was able to go back to working out yesterday. Truth be told, my lungs were not super thrilled with the run. Today’s run went much better.
It’s been so nice having Jake and my folks here. I’ll be so sad when they leave. I’m sure they’ll be sad to leave, the now nice, Florida weather behind to return to the reality of a northern winter. Nonetheless, we experienced a shortened Florida winter from Christmas Eve until yesterday. In fact, Goalielocks even turned on the heat upstairs for one night. To be fair, it was in the 40s, which makes for a mighty cold shower.
Most of Christmas Eve and the days before were filled with baking esculent treats. My mom and the boys baked a couple rounds of mint cookies after I mixed up the dough. While they baked the cookies, I mixed up some joulutorts (Finnish stars cookies) to bake later. I also baked some peppermint patty cookies and rosettes. The rosettes were a pain in the ass to make, so I’m not sure I’ll make them again. We did attempt to make lefse, but there was a mishap in the fridge. I made Prosecco parfaits for Christmas Eve dinner. Lastly, I made my infamous caramel rolls.
I usually make the caramel rolls one time each year. They take a long time and they’re definitely not compliant with any diet. The kids have protested that I should make them more. In fact, it’s been mandated by the family that I make the rolls one more time this holiday season. Consequently, I’ll be baking more yummy caramel rolls on Saturday morning before the holiday break is over.
Today’s accountability tracker:
Workout: Ran two miles, walked one. Hamstring Opener Restorative practice via Practyce App.
They’re here!!! That’s right Jake and my folks arrived just in time for the winter solstice tomorrow. More to the point, they’re here for the holidays! I’m so excited to have all three boys gone for a Christmas. Moreover, my parents visiting is the cherry on top! My parents flew in this afternoon, while Jake and Melly drove home from FSU. He had flown to Tally first, so she wouldn’t have to drive down by herself.
The anticipation was getting to me earlier today, so I passed the time taking portraits of the dog with my phone. Truly, portrait mode in the iPhone takes some incredible pictures. Today I was playing around with the stage lighting. It produced some super cute photos. Although to be fair, the subjects themselves were super cute. Incredibly, all three of the puppies were cooperative with the photo shoot. This rarely happens!
We ended the evening with a nice family dinner at Villa Rosana in Boca. Melody and her parents were able to join us, which was fantastic. The Mayor was quick to reserve the spot next to himself for Jake. He definitely misses having his big brother home. During dinner, the boys and Melly enjoyed each other’s company with healthy dose of laughter and riposte amongst the banter. I’m looking forward to another fun day with them tomorrow!
Today’s accountability tracker:
Workout: Ran two miles, walked one. Restore and Refresh Restorative gifs practice via Practyce App.
I wrote my deployment diaries throughout the entirety of Jake’s deployment, but ultimately only published a few of them. After all, I think the ravings of a worried mother would have eventually gotten redundant for you all. Nonetheless, writing daily whether I published them or not brought me peace. Initially, I had expected that Jake would return in time for graduation. Unfortunately, given world events that was not the case.
Finally, this summer we had hints that he’d be returning stateside. Naturally, I held my breath because I didn’t want to get too excited in case he got extended again. After all, his and now our schedule is at the mercy of the military. And then the text, we’d been waiting for finally came, he was about to take off on his return flight home. Crazily, he had to wait until this point because until the plane is rolling down the runway, the military could change their mind and make them stay.
Like the stalker mom I am, I naturally found his flight and followed it throughout the night and the next day. I may have had a slight heart attack as his plane hit a radar dead zone in the middle of the Atlantic and fell off the screen. Fortunately, his plane was not in the dead zone for long and his plane re-emerged from the dead zone, I breathed a long sigh of relief.
Unfortunately for Jake, the journey home took several days with several stops. When he finally made it home, we were overseas. Oh, the irony. Fortunately, our trip was quick. Nevertheless, I was able to fill his new apartment with groceries from the Bahamas thanks to Shipt. His friends and Sgt helped him move in. Thankfully, his girlfriend was able to get there the Monday after he returned, which was awesome. I definitely didn’t want him alone.
Finally, about a week after he returned the boys and I were able to fly out and see him. Honestly, I thought my heart was going to burst from anticipation. It was a long day of flying, but we finally got to our Airbnb at around 11:30. On the ride from the airport, we had ordered pizza. It turns out it was the worst Papa John’s pizza any of us had ever had. Nevertheless, none of that really mattered to any of us as we were all back together.
When he first pulled up, we went out to greet both him and Melly, I think I hugged Jake for a good solid ten minutes. Or at least until his younger brothers started making fun of me. Some day when they have kids they’ll understand the emotional investment and the need for a ten-minute hug. As hugs go, I’d say it was the best ever. There’s no better hug than one from your child that just returned safely from deployment. During the course of that world record-setting hug, I could feel the weight of the world lift off my shoulders. No longer did I have to carry the stress of him being in constant peril in an uncertain world.
To all our friends and family that supported us throughout his deployment, we love you and thank you dearly. Jake loved all the beautiful cards, care packages, and goodies he received while being down range. He surely felt the love. His deployment was not without its scary moments, but he also had great command and a squadron that took care of him down range. He was also able to have some fun adventures that he’ll always relish. The one thing he won’t miss is the ridiculous temperatures and humidity of the Persian Gulf. Lastly, my heart is with all the military mothers that came before me who, unlike me, didn’t have the technology to communicate with their children regularly. I can’t imagine their pain. And this will close out my deployment diaries for now.
So invasions take on a whole new meaning when your child is actively serving and somewhere on the other side of the world. The anxiety level for this mama has reached an all time high. I’m not sure what this means for his and his buddies, but I know it’s not a positive development. We don’t really know how this will impact his time overseas, which really sucks. It’s super hard not knowing anything because we can’t really plan our lives.
I’ve found that while my boy has been deployed avoiding the news has been key to maintaining my mental health. Unfortunately, these past few weeks it’s been utterly impossible to avoid the news. With missiles flying in the Middle East, Russia knocking on Ukraine’s door and China’s Taiwan obsession, there hasn’t been much rest for the weary. It’s hard to quantify how this news hits differently with a kid deployed. There’s a perennial knot in the stomach that’s unrelenting tightening with each bit of news. Nonetheless, I need to limit my news intact. Honestly, the more I limit the news, the better I feel.
Over the last few months, we’ve settled into the big D routine. For the holidays, we sent a bunch of care packages to him. In normal fashion, we -meaning our friends and hockey family- may have completely overdone it. In fact, he might have enough beef jerky to last a life time. In the end, the most important thing was that he knows there’s a whole army (pun intended) that support him and are praying for him back home.
Perhaps the hardest part is not knowing anything. With Goalielocks forthcoming graduation, I’d love to be able to plan a bunch of family activities and pictures. Unfortunately, we have no idea when he’ll be back home. Ugh….. It’s honestly the worst.