USS Harry S. Truman 2013

USS Harry S. Truman 2013
waiting for his ship to come in…

May 8, 2014

Homecoming Day in Pictures…

NINE. MONTHS.  AGAIN.  Wow…

Things are settling down around here (besides the upcoming move!) and it's time to try and get back into a routine that involves Sailor Husband being present and accounted for…. for the next 3 years, believe it or not!  He has been on sea duty for 6 straight years, I don't even want to get too comfortable thinking about a 3 year tour of shore duty for him since I know it can be yanked out from under us at any time, but we have to try and think positively.  Homecoming Day is now a memory, so here are some long overdue photos of the event.

Weather:   Cold with 50 mph wind gusts, but no rain thankfully!


Bright and early, stuck in homecoming traffic!


An hour later, first glimpse of the USS Harry S. Truman


She is powered by a fleet of tugboats coming in, they are responsible for porting her safely from about a mile out at least.  This whole process takes hours.


A little closer…


closer…

 

Finn not remembering how darn big that boat is!


Close enough to see random sailors being really, really happy!


Quick video of "Shift Colors".  This is a big deal, when ship's colors (flag) goes up, they are tied up and officially IN PORT!


The boys looking small while waiting.  This is the worst part, waiting up to several hours for lines to be fastened and 5500+ sailors trying to line up by height to get off.  Just kidding, was checking to see if you were paying attention!  But they do disembark by rank, so we don't have to wait nearly as long as we did years ago!


Thanks to hubby snapping this pic onboard, you can see what goes on in the hangar bay onboard as they are also waiting, waiting, waiting…   Almost 6000 sailors… think about that for a second.  That's a big a$$ boat, that's what that is.


Fast forward to the good part!








I'm just glad nobody tripped and knocked out any teeth.


and everybody says "awwwww……"


I think this is Deployment #5 or 6 under our belt now, I stopped counting!  Roughly 36-40 months in total?  
WOW.


and CUT!  …that's a wrap!















Apr 17, 2014

Mail Order Brides must feel like this!

Seriously.  Tomorrow is the day!  This is my umpteenth deployment but there's always this feeling - mail order brides must feel a bit like this!  So much fanfare goes into these homecoming meetings…  will he even like me?

If he doesn't, too bad.  We have papers already!  :)

I know, it seems funny but a lot changes over a year.  Schedules have to be adjusted to allow for another person being physically here, not just an idea at the other end of a computer.  I have changed.  For the better, I hope!  

A big one:  I cut the awful hair!


Now I'm a blonde.


Another good change:  I lost 15 pounds.  That was a lot on my short frame, and I feel better - I just hope he notices!

The kids are HUGE.  They both had growth spurts while he was gone, and I'm afraid it will be like pouring salt in a wound when he sees them.  At least after so many deployments we both have the wisdom to expect these kinds of shocks and try to prepare for them.

Today went by really fast…

We were greeted by the sight of his squadron's pilots flying in, the scream of SuperHornets never sounded so good.  Quiet is overrated!


Next up was to get the house super cleaned.  I joked on Facebook that the first child to get Spiderman footprints on my fridge or cemented toothpaste left in the sink will be caned.  Maybe that's not a joke… I told them to eat over the sink LOL.

Then it was time for "the girls" to get their blowouts and pedi-pedi's.  Sprocket is super cute in her purple bows but those had about a 2 second lifespan.


Got my bling for my outfit…


Why the "75"?


Then it was off to the "Night Before" party near the pier in Norfolk.


Loch was at a birthday party so it was just Finn & me.  Finn is looking every bit of his status as surgery recovery patient, but he needed the fresh air.  Maybe not the 48º temps and 40 mph wind gusts down there.  The weather is not going to cooperate tomorrow, but at least there is no rain forecasted.

My dad will love this one:  tonight's party was a typical D.O.D. event.  Scheduled from 4-8 pm, they ran out of food by 4:40 pm, although the Limbo and Electric Slide on the dance floor was going strong against a backdrop of a huge Security Briefing video being shown on a loop.  Pretty funny stuff.

Miles of cupcakes, however.  So that was dinner - because I'm not cooking!


It was really difficult to take a photo of the etching on the glasses we received tonight, but it has the ship and name on it.  Although I think these are pretty cool mementos to stash away, I'm pretty sure hubby will roll his eyes.  Not more ship….  !  Doesn't matter anyways I guess since they will get broken courtesy of our next government move :)


I saved the outfit for last!  This is bigger than prom, ladies.  You just don't divulge the outfit until the last minute!  Well, here it is…


And, courtesy of our current Polar Vortex I will most likely be covering it up with a trench coat!

If any family or friends are interested, this link will be active soon and will be streaming live the USS Harry S. Truman Homecoming tomorrow.

Welcome Home USS Harry S. Truman and Airwing
"Give 'em Hell!"
and especially

VFA-105 GUNSLINGERS
"Tonight, We Ride!"

 No sleep tonight… !




Apr 15, 2014

Head is spinning!

Thank you to all my blogger friends that are still here for me :)  I am working on reading up on all your blogs to see what I've missed and I will be ready to start commenting again soon!  I set a goal for myself to post twice a week while I relearn how to "schedule my day" to allow for blogging - failed right out of the gate!  This week has been INSANE though!  The Navy has publicly released the homecoming date so I feel comfortable letting you all know that it is at the end of this week… which is FANTASTIC news, but I have to get through this week first!  

Loch had his spring orchestra concert… yes, in the past year he has ditched the fiddle and now plays the cello.  Next year however, he will be playing Contrabass.  Or Double Bass, Stand Up Bass… String Bass… LOL they are all the same thing just depends on where you are from.


Here is some video, sorry but my phone cut out halfway through.  He is on cello, 2 rows in front of the Bass, if that makes sense.  These are first year orchestra students, all in 5th Grade.


So that got checked off the list.

Next up was Finn's surgery.  He had his tonsils out the other day… again.  For the uninitiated, here is a quick rundown of how that happens:

In about 3-5% of kids under the age of 5 that have their tonsils removed via one of the newer, less invasive techniques (debridement, radio wave, laser, etc)… they grow back!  Finn's were back bigger than ever, larger than an adult's even.  His sleep apnea came back and was affecting his schoolwork since he was so tired all the time, so they had to come out again.

This time he had it done the traditional way with a scalpel.  His surgery was almost an hour which is quite long for that procedure.  He had so much scar tissue from the previous one that the Dr. said it was very difficult to separate the tonsil from the muscle through all of that so they had to be very, very careful.  Did you know that a main artery in the neck lies just 2 mm from the tonsil bed?  Yeah, me neither until afterwards and so I've been pretty freaked out keeping an eye on him during recovery to ensure there isn't a sudden bleed.

Waiting before surgery…


Still happy…


Not so much happiness here.


Here is a blast from the past of CUTE!  Finn's 1st time at the age of 4.  Recovery was a breeze here, only about 3-4 days.



This time, they found his adenoids had grown back too (for the THIRD time) so they came out as well, should be the last time since he is older now and older kids don't usually show any regrowth.

He is on Day 5 of recovery now, it has been really rough but he is hanging in there.  He is off the hydrocodone as of today and on regular kid Tylenol.  Hoping he will be feeling lots better on Homecoming Day.

I haven't had time to enjoy Virginia!  She is greening up beautifully after a long winter, and my azaleas should open up within a week or two!


Next post will be a Homecoming Prep post!

**Added:  my brand new weather alert radio just went off, about jumped out of my skin!  What a cool little piece of equipment!  Apparently we have 60 mph winds and hail headed here within 30 minutes so I'm signing off… what a weird weather day, went from storms and 78º to a warning of 32º temps tonight.  Wacky, but so is everywhere this year!

Apr 6, 2014

Not just a new chapter, but a whole new book!

I'm here.  I miss you all.  I miss myself.  I'm asking forgiveness for being a bad follower of all your wonderful blogs and posts!  I gave the blog a new look to reflect our current deployment :)  

Something happened today that really made me realize how much of an outlet blogging was for me.  I had a very long conversation via Facebook with another military spouse in another state whom I have never even met.  I helped her out with photos and ideas for her brand new garden.  I referred her to my blog for some photos of plants for beneficials and an hour later I started wondering why I stopped blogging.  I didn't have a good answer. I'd lost my passion for awhile I guess, or it just had to be put on the back burner for awhile.

The past year has been pretty stressful and packed full of change for me.  Not necessarily for our household, but for me definitely.  Hubby has been deployed a very long time, we are at 9 months now.  While not his longest yet, it is approaching that!  During that time my kids have grown, WOW have they grown.  I now have about one night a week that I'm not shuttling them somewhere or otherwise performing some function for their team sports or school activities.  My gardening has come to a complete halt as I start removing garden beds instead of creating, preparing for upcoming military orders and turning over our house as a rental home.  All being done alone, while we wait for the current deployment to end.  Dealing with a few other issues that have come up that I can't go into detail about now, suffice it to say this past year has been a real challenge financially, but a challenge I am prevailing over.  Details will follow on that in a few months but be assured nothing bad has happened to anyone in our family - everyone is healthy and happy in that regard :)  

Changes since I last checked in:

Loch has ditched the fiddle and now plays the cello.


Winter Swim Team finally ended, although Summer Team starts next month!


Where did those muscles come from?  Loch has "wings" now! 


Winter has been tough all over, but seriously…. Virginia Beach?!


The kids are now attending school on Saturdays making up for all the snow days.


I now have a new title:

There's a sport I never even really gave thought to.  When dad left it wasn't even in Finn's mind, but not only is he on a wrestling team now, he loves it.




Of course I couldn't leave well enough alone.  I rejoiced when swim team season was over and I no longer was a stroke and turn judge for every meet and could just fade into the background…. 

um, I decided the wrestling team needed a team photographer.  Uh, huh.

With some generous Christmas gift cards/cash from relatives, I decided to buy that dream camera and actually learn how to use it.  As if my goal of "not using the auto function" wasn't lofty enough - I pick fast moving kids in sports as my learning subject?  Clearly I am insane.  But fun-insane.

The last change for today is hubby actually getting to enjoy himself a little.  He had the good fortune to score a few weeks' worth of work off the ship in Saudi Arabia.  Enjoying himself immensely over a platter of goat with the locals, who were very hospitable.  My husband is never one to hide out and eat in a hotel room - he gets out, meets people and gets the full experience wherever he goes.



one more thing ...

We have big news.

We ARE moving.

To Maryland.

I'm pretty excited about it in spite of the cost of living and all the issues involved with our house and kids and schools and on and on.  

It's time.

I can't say when deployment ends, but it won't be much longer now.


I'm still here… and thinking of the big changes to come!

I feel kind of silly with a garden blog these days with no gardening going on, but I guess that's part of the "military homestead"… every now and then you gotta shut it down and carry it somewhere new and set it up all over again!

I love you all, I hope you are still there :)

Nov 27, 2013

Just going to jump back in with a rant...

I know, I know… "where the hell have you been?"!  I will list some excuses at the end of this post but for now I will just have to jump in here and post a rant.  Things happen every now and then that are just not appropriate for my Facebook page, you know... like you want to talk about something besides cat videos and reposts of news articles, right?  Lucky for me there is a place for all my drivel in the blogosphere and I have missed it so!  Ranting, here we go…

***
So I am sick and tired of people judging me for my "couponing".  Yes, I haven't posted about it much because I really don't go looking to convert people or looking for their opinions either.  For about 2 years I have carried my "coupon binder" EVERYWHERE.  



I am not one who prints out online coupons because I don't buy enough stuff to justify the ink but I do clip newspaper coupons from the Sunday paper and only shop what's on sale.  For groceries, I actually only shop at one store.  So right away you can see I'm not as militant as some, but I save a respectable amount averaging about 30%.  It's about the equivalent of my family's cell phone bill - and that's just on groceries.

Here's the part that kills me - there's always 1 person (or 100) that feel the need to tell me that they would use coupons if it wasn't all for junk.  Junk?  Where exactly is my junk?  I don't buy frozen dinners or SPAM or have 2000 Hot Pockets in my freezer... what I do have are things that make my life easier.  Yes, I buy store bought bread, yogurt, cheese sticks, occasionally granola bars and oodles of boxes of cereal, so sue me for not being out there milking my own cow every morning or baking bread every stinking day (although if I have the time I find it therapeutic and appreciated by my kids).  There are plenty of ways to save money on real things that real parents need to run an actual household with busy people that live there!

None of these "comments" I get, either from strangers or from people I know, are solicited.  They feel the need to justify themselves for some reason when they see me next to them with my binder, an actual pencil and paper and a calculator.  (The fun part is that I usually have my kids with me so there goes their excuse #1 for not being able to do it :)

Interesting thing though... I never have any meat or vegetables in my cart.  That's because I actually buy my meat in bulk when it is seasonally available from a local farm, and I grow my own vegetables and freeze or can them for use in the winter.  So what "appears" to be a chick who only feeds her kids cereal and yogurt and cheese sticks and lunch snacks is actually someone supplementing the quality stuff that comes from local farmers and her own hard work the best way she can at this time.  Anyone filling their cart with tomatoes from Mexico or oranges from South Africa has no business judging me for buying granola bars made in only-God-knows-where.

If you know me, you know that although I garden and do my part to educate myself and others about food quality and local farming - I also do not subscribe to the hipster drivel.  While some people are busy dumping their whole paycheck at Whole Foods,  more concerned with what kind of trendy "market bag" they have to carry at the Farmer's Market and have their noses stuck in the latest crunchy parenting magazine - I am busy.  I am a stay at home mom of a deployed service member on a limited budget with 2 boys.  I do the best I can with what we have.  Haters are welcome to walk in my shoes for a month… successfully.  

Tonight, I encountered a person who commented that she would cut coupons "if it was for stuff she used", and commented "I ain't got time for that" (really).… I later saw her with an assortment of crap that I would never use AND she was paying with an EBT card.  Whoa.

I am going to post a photo here of my grocery trip tonight.  It was a small one, but I only bought things I had coupons for and took advantage of a sale of gift cards that I could use for Christmas shopping.  I seriously ask you if these are things you would never buy?  Be honest! 

I needed to pick up just a couple of things, but ended up getting some good deals - this wouldn't happen if I didn't ALWAYS have my coupon binder with me.  Of note:  some of these were FREE.  Eggs, 2 of the bags of pretzels, and 4 cans of potatoes.  Of course I can live my life without canned potatoes but they are not junk and I repeat:  FREE.

I ask you seriously, do you not EVER buy these things?  If you don't ever eat this stuff I am in awe of you, but really - you are just weird :)



See the gift cards there?  Buy $100 of gift cards and get $20 off next grocery visit.  The fact that I can buy them before cyber Monday? - I'm sold!  That's like getting $100 of Amazon crap for $80 before I even include the sales on Amazon.  


Here is a closeup of an average receipt showing my coupons for the above photo, this trip was just for a short trip tonight.  You should see my quarterly big trips when I'm actually trying!

I realize that there are indeed people out there who would't buy these things, but are they at sporting practices/events 5 days a week and packing lunches for kids?  And still finding time to grow their own veggies and keep a clean house and do yard work and help with homework and do laundry… ALONE with a deployed spouse?  At the opposite end of the spectrum from the haters we have the awestruck "lazy people"… if you are a couponer you know who I'm talking about.  "Oh wow!  That is awesome!  Let's get together and you can show me how to do that!"  Um...NO.  Learn it yourself the same way I did, it will stick with you longer.  These people usually just want to chat for an hour OR have you do their shopping for them.  "Ain't nobody got time for that".

I am not trying to begrudge anyone who can do better than this, I applaud you!  BUT, I want to give a shout out to the other moms I see couponing who are doing the same thing I'm trying to do - work for my family the best way I can, without resorting to 2000 Hot Pockets in the cart.  There is nothing wrong with what you are doing, and I stand with you!  By the way this madness goes for everything… I do the rewards points at stores, coupon codes online, all of it.  I even get .15 to .30 cents off per gallon of gas every time I fill up just from saving my grocery gas rewards and scanning them at the pump.  

One of the reasons I do this:  



Sports teams can get expensive!  But who can say no to this face?

One more good thing about stocking up on the cheap - this year I noticed that I could assemble an entire traditional Thanksgiving dinner right down to the turkey just from what I already have in food storage and in the freezer.  We will be having turkey, stuffing, potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole - all the traditional trappings… right from what we already have.  Another thing I noticed, this is the 2nd year in a row the hubs has missed Thanksgiving, ugh.  More leftovers I guess.

Another cool score with a sale & coupon:  I paid $3.00 for this new release the kids want for Christmas, and got a $5 gift card to use next visit.



Soooo, I'm done with my rant for now, and that sure felt good, even if it made no sense :)  Thanks for hanging in there, if you are indeed still there!

*** 

So where have I been?  No, I haven't moved to Belize.  Yet.  I've been on Facebook for sure, but due to some of hubby's work/career stuff I have been laying low on the online blog presence thing… in case you haven't noticed I'm kind of opinionated and that's not always a good thing so I have to know when to go away for awhile :)  Also, I have just been entering a "new season" in my life where I was having some trouble figuring out how to fit everything I used to do easily into a mere day - I can't seem to do it anymore with the boys getting older and busier.  Then, there's that deployment thing...

Someone needs to tell me what to do about the Reader thing... what are you all using now?  I probably went from 200 followers down to zero so I should stop now until I find out if anyone is left out there in blog-land...

Happy Thanksgiving to you!

May 29, 2013

I got lost in the strawberry field?

Don't I wish!  I haven't even been strawberry picking yet, and they are almost done!  My apologies for my unexpected hiatus from blogging...  I wish I had a legitimate reason for it but it was really a lot of things all bundled up together that resulted in sort of a mommy meltdown.  To sum it up without sounding too dismal, I am just completely overwhelmed lately.  Hubby is here, then gone, then back again and we never seem to know when until the day arrives.  The garden was looking dismal for awhile due to the 6-8 weeks of rain we had, I thought it would never get planted!  I wasn't prepared for the toll that early hot flashes and no sleep are taking on me either, I break out in a sweat every 15 minutes like clockwork which means no sleep, ugh!  I was really hoping I had a lot more time left where those symptoms are concerned but considering my history of infertility and resulting treatments and surgeries I am really not that surprised, just annoyed!  I am now leading 3 dens of Cub Scouts so that is really putting a bit of stress on as well, hubby was my co-leader but with his deployment schedule it was turning out to be a one-girl show.  What update would be complete without the house carnage?  Yes, we had a pipe burst which left 700 gallons of water under the house and an expensive repair - after hours of course.  Our tenant also moved out so we had to find another quickly and paint the whole rental and do needed repairs there which has sucked up every weekend in May.  Okay, I think that about covers it!  I have kind of felt that I'm losing all the hobbies that bring me joy one by one.  Why is it that the stuff that brings stress relief and happiness are the first to go when life gets crazy?  My mental well-being I think has suffered a little more that what I let on here but you get the gist of it without 10 pages of venting :)  

If my Reader is any indication of how busy running in circles I've been - I am behind 185 blog posts!  That's right, I haven't even been able to read your posts and I am so sorry if I have missed any big events in your lives - I plan on starting to catch up tonight after swim team practice.  I won't be commenting until I get caught up on my reading since I find myself getting overwhelmed easily these days, but I will definitely be checking in!

Our lovely azaleas are done here in Virginia Beach, but I really wanted to share...


they are always so beautiful here.


Loch went on his annual Math & Science Academy field trip to Washington D.C., this year they went to the National Air and Space Museum.  They got to ride on the double decker busses again.


I am finally starting to see some things harvested from the GARDEN!

Below, a mostly fresh picked lettuce BLT (with no T) !


Next evening was pizza night.  The lettuce basil is huge this year, that's spinach on the left with the basil on the right.  No tomatoes yet of course so we are using up the last of the sun dried tomatoes from last season.


Daddy passing on the pizza skills to Finn...


Spinach and basil & sundried tomato pizza ready for the oven -


Hubs & I had an early anniversary dinner out at a local seafood place this past weekend - of course the kids were with us LOL.

Here, Loch is explaining to us the Masonic symbols on currency and giving us a rundown on the Illuminati - huh?  Yep, that was his anniversary gift to us.  Who IS this kid? 


Softshell Crab is in season and it doesn't last long, only a couple of weeks so here is a glimpse of East Coast tradition -  nothing better than eating a sandwich that has legs sticking out of it!


So TODAY is our actual anniversary, and I hope I remember to tell him tonight as we pass each other as he comes home from work and I head out to swim practice - indeed 2 ships passing lately!

If any of you are out there and haven't unsubscribed yet, thank you!  :)