the countdown.

It first happened in a department store, while debating a purchase of new Tupperware. Faint strains of "I'll Be Home for Christmas" floated over the speaker system, and suddenly I realized just how close Gabe is to coming home...he hasn't been in the States for Christmas in years, but this Christmas he'll be home. My eyes got misty and I felt that I might lose it right there in the Tupperware aisle.

"Keep...your crap...together, girlfriend!"  I shouted in my head.

I gritted my teeth and narrowed my eyes, attempting to focus harder on plastic leftover containers than any woman in the history of Tupperware. But it was too late. I'd already started thinking about seeing Gabe for the first time in what feels like forever, decorating our tree, making cookies together and snuggling up to watch Rudolph. I lost it right there in the home section of Target...and I wasn't even ashamed.

And now like clockwork, I've started crying at the silliest, mushiest things. This is how I know it's time for Gabe to come home...because without fail I become an absolute sentimental fool once our countdown reaches 30 days or less.

This year feels extremely special. After spending the past twenty-two weeks apart, we're now at two weeks, six days and a handful of hours...until Gabe returns home from Iraq, just in time for Christmas. And although there's a daunting amount of papers, finals and holiday commitments between now and Gabe's arrival, I don't even care. It will all get done. It will all breeze by, and soon I'll be picking him up at my tiny Wisconsin airport, where we've cried our goodbyes many, many times...but have never gotten to say an elated hello.

Not to get all Mariah Carey on you, but I'm going there. The only thing on my Christmas list is the person I'll be picking up at the airport on December 20th.

This year, it is truly the only, only thing I need in this world.


never trust bloggers...they're great liars.

A few days ago my Seattle blog friend Nellie, who I met at Always Bloggy in Philadelphia last month, emailed to say she'd be stuck in Minneapolis for a work weekend and "would you like to drive up on Friday night for dinner + drinks, and to crash at the hotel?" I replied (with many excited "!!!") that I would love to meet up Friday night...I couldn't believe my luck! Getting to see one of my AB girls just a month after meeting was blowing my ever-lovin' mind.

Fast forward to Friday: I'm frantically packing my bags, Facebooking Nellie with my phone number and tweeting my Always Bloggy girls about seeing Nellie. They tweet back with messages of jealousy.

A few hours later, I'm in downtown Minneapolis, rolling into the lobby of the Radisson, hugging Nellie and jetting up to her room to drop off my bags. We chit-chat on the elevator and down the hallway to the room. As Nellie slides her room key, she says,

"I have to apologize for something...because I kind of lied to you..."

My eyes hit the room and I see the far bed, which is covered with presents, treats and aqua garland. Then I come fully around the corner where I see...my blog friends Shannon, from Philly, and Karen, from Virgina, sitting on the other bed screaming, "SURPRISE!! HAPPY BACHELORETTE PARTY!"

Lest it ever be said that I'm not a spazz, I give you this video. I couldn't stop crying. And jumping. And flapping my hands like I was about to take off in flight.

For a full five minutes, I don't think I stopped spilling tears, even through our champagne toast. Every time I tried to say thank you, or to express how overwhelmed I was, those pesky tears just kept coming.

In part, I cried because I couldn't believe these girls who I'd just met a month ago...all of them with a husband and baby at home...dropped life to come to the freezing Midwest and see me. I was overwhelmed with gratefulness, almost humbled and embarrassed that anyone went to so much work for meBut, I also cried because I absolutely could believe it...I feel the same. Until that moment, I didn't realize how much I'd missed them! I cried because I'd absolutely fly across the country in a heartbeat to see any of them. Because although we just met face-to-face 30 days ago, we've somehow forged what we know are lifelong friendships.

Given that I thought I was just coming up for dinner, I left my camera behind. But we had an amazing weekend together. The girls took plenty of photos (albeit, some of them incriminating) which they're kindly sharing with me...and I shall share them with you later this week! Needless to say, I'm still on Cloud 9 about my early, unexpected Bachelorette Party...my heart still feels pretty freakin' full...

...and I've cried about seven times watching that video. :)


on your side.

Flowers from Gabe..I always rearrange them in 3-4 smaller mason jar arrangements. :)

Gabe and I have been talking a lot lately about being "on your side".  Sometimes it's tough to feel each other's support with miles and hours between us. It can be tricky to feel important when lost in a sea of regular life...especially as it's been five months since we've seen each other's faces. 

But, Gabe has a sixth sense for knowing when I'm feeling distant, stressed or less-connected. Lately, my favorite part about having a husband-to-be is that he is someone who I am always "for", and he is always "for me"...even when it's inconvenient. Even when he's worked a 13 hour day and can barely keep his eyes open. Even when I'm being a total pill, he makes the effort to ensure that I feel treasured and loved.

We're a team, and I've really started to feel that lately. When one of us feels like trying less, doesn't have the energy to deal with the details or deal with another day of long-distance love, the other picks it up without missing a beat. Perhaps that's the best part of being opposites. We both have different stressors and strengths, which means we each have a chance to shine in situations the other doesn't excel in.

Indeed, indeed...opposites attract...and sometimes that makes a fantastic team. :)



Oh my.

Last Tuesday I noticed weeks passed since I last picked up my camera, or shared anything truly personal in this space. Then, after receiving reader emails ensuring I was still alive, I realized how badly I needed to get back here!

Time has just slipped by. Granted, I've been busy, but in the past I always made time for blogging...it happened organically, like remembering to eat lunch or hugging an old friend hello. Yet over the past two months, my urge to share just dried up. It was strange. I've gone over and over it: Have I changed creatively? Am I just being lazy...or have I gotten boring? Am I no longer a creative girl?

But, then it hit me. For the past two months, my emotional energy was thrown into attacking what had bankrupted my joy. Time I once spent blogging was given over to journaling personal thoughts, facing memories, attending twice-weekly counseling sessions. Some days, I want to share that experience--my breakdown, seeking help and the recovery. It's now a part of who I am. But, a piece of me quietly says no. Some things are too personal...and I don't possess the creative ability to express it.

The latter is likely true.

Regardless, I'm returning to this space...close to girl I always was, but a bit stronger and more self aware. Kindly bear with me if I read a like a newborn fawn on his wobbly first walk...

...I'm just learning to trust my own creative legs once again. :)


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