The Last Few Months

Wrote this a couple days ago, guess I forgot to hit Publish instead of Save... oops!

I've been promising and promising a post recapping the last few months. I am hoping a whole bunch of you haven't lost hope in me with my lack of blogging, it's just been a whirlwind of things happening and blogging got pushed to the wayside, but I'm going to work on making sure I'm here at least weekly. I guess the last time I really updated was October, after the American Widow Project getaway even in Kennebunk, Maine so maybe we should start from there? I know I've briefly mentioned some of the things I'm going to talk about but I figured I'd go into a bit more detail because I've been lacking in really posting about any of these adventures.

October (the rest):
Went to BlogHer Writer's Conference. It was pretty awesome. I was both encouraged and discouraged, almost simultaneously, if that's even possible. I don't think it's a big secret I aspire to one day be a writer. Many people tell me now that I am a writer, considering I'm writer right now (a-duh) and I do write for the incredible DStripped, so I guess I'm part of the way there, but I really want to write a book one day - that kind of writer. I suppose the more accurate term would be "author." I felt this conference might help me see where to begin in my journey of becoming an author. And that it did. It helped prepare me for all that writing your own book entails. I met some really cool people, (finally got to meet Karie in real life) and learned all about the process of becoming an author. The reason I was discouraged... well, it's a lot more work than I anticipated. Now, that doesn't mean I'm not going to try. Anything worth having is worth working for, it was just a bit of a realty check. Possibly the realty check I needed to really get to work and put my all into my writing and possibly the realty check to make sure the timing is right before I really do that. So all in all, a great conference.

Z came with me to New York for the weekend of the conference and in off time from the conference we enjoyed site seeing and just hanging out in one of my favorite cities. He surprised me with tickets to go see Wicked on Broadway which was indescribably awesome. I'm pretty sure I had tears in my eyes the majority of the show because I was so awe-struck with the awesomeness that is Broadway and seeing one of my favorite plays. I got to meet a long-lost second cousin who was super cool and got to hang out in the city with her, a real New Yorker and have some family bonding. And we ate some real NY pizza. Mmmmm.
Definitely a wonderful weekend that I will not soon be forgetting.
In the chair before Wicked with my program

Halloween was soon after we got back to NY and we celebrated it at my mom's house in Maryland. We chose to do a Wizard of Oz theme. I hand made the costumes, actually sewing when it came to Ariana's. Mine had one store bought part - the corset - but besides that I made the rest, even the crown. Z and I made his together. The night before Halloween Z and I had our "adult" Halloween night and went to a local bar where we had a blast. We even ended up winning Best Couple's Costume. The tin man and Galinda the good witch - quite the pair!
On actual Halloween night, we took A to trunk or treating at Ripkin Stadium. We figured this might be better for someone as young as her rather than walking through neighborhoods. It was certainly the right choice, as it was pretty chilly out, the cars were parked close together and by the time we were finished with the cars A was so over the whole thing. She did great though, she even finally started saying "Please" to the people instead of trick or treat - still working on that one. She didn't quite understand all that was going on, just that she and everyone else was dressed silly and she was getting yummy treats but we still had fun and we also met a lion and scarecrow to complete our Wizard of Oz crew while we were there! It was a super fun Halloween and I'm looking forward to next year's!
A and I before we left for trunk-or-treating

All of us after trunk-or-treating, A as Dorothy, Mom as the Wicked Witch, Z as Tin Man and me as Glinda the Good Witch

We headed back home to NC for a few weeks in November to just be home and chill out. I also had the Air Combat experience that I mentioned a while back. It was nice to be home and in our own space but I was sad to be away from my parents. I just had been having so much fun being in Maryland and I find the more I'm away from there, the more I want to go back.

My air combat experience was the definition of exhilarating. It ended up being 4 hours from the house (instead of the 2 I'd thought it was... should have looked it up) so a friend of mine came with me and Z stayed with A so she didn't have to endure another long car ride and waiting around while I flew a plane for an hour. Flying the plane... gosh, what can I say. It's so hard to describe but I certainly felt super alive. I won 3 out of the 6 dog fights in the sky, so I'd say it was a generally successful day. After the event we watched a video of the during and I couldn't believe what I'd just done. To read the whole story you should definitely check it out in the Fall/Winter edition of DStripped, as I wrote a complete recount of the experience for the mag! When I got home Z had dinner made and there was one little girl who was happy to see me. Definitely another awesome and memorable day.
Ratso and I (call sign earned: Screamer) pre-takeoff

Then in November, we decided to spend Thanksgiving in Wisconsin with Z's family. We stopped at my family's in Maryland first, spent the night and were on the road the next day. It took 16 hours to get there and I am still so very, very proud of my little girl. She did so well on the drive even with little sleep. Then when we got there, she went right to bed like a good girl. She's so awesome and such a good traveler (wow, I say awesome a lot. Maybe I should watch less Cake Boss!).

I had so much fun in Wisconsin. I really thought I was going to hate it, being the middle of America and all, but it was really nice and we had a blast. Z's family is just awesome and I really enjoyed getting to know them. We had a big Thanksgiving dinner at his mom's house with foods I helped make (pretty proud of that fact, I'm definitely learning my way around the kitchen these days!), we went to a concert to see his uncle's band play, had a themed family dinner at Z's uncles - South American theme, yum - we went to the Wisconsin Dell's and had so much fun on the indoor water parks, A loved to play in the kiddie area and was so cute. We also went and visited Z's horses. A loved petting them but was not so happy when we tried to set her on one. It's ok, she'll grow into horses! We did a million other things too, movie nights, family visiting, seeing the lights. A really cool dinner at an Inn themed in 40s style with little shareable food. I could go on and on about our Wisconsin trip. I really, really enjoyed myself. I definitely think we'll be visiting the middle of America at least a couple times a year, it's a pretty awesome place (there's that word again!)
Us at the Dell's (water slides in November in Wisconsin?? YES PLEASE!)
Z and I at the neat themed restaurant, the Baker House - you got to pick out hats!

After that trip, we returned back to Maryland to begin December, but I will leave that for Part II, as not to overload one post with catching up!

They Really Are Watching

... Kids that is. They really are watching and paying attention. We read about it all the time in parenting columns, to be careful because kids are watching and learning from your every action, but I don't think it really sinks in until they really, really show it. It didn't for me, at least, not until today.

We were in the truck driving off base and had the music up. I was dancing around like a fool, as I'm known to do while riding along and I look back and Ariana is totally jamming out with me. As I watched her, I saw that she was emulating my moves. I did a raise the roof move, her little hands went up. I fist pumped and Ariana's little hands were balled up into two little fists waving. I swung my head back and forth and looked back and there was Ari swinging just as crazily as her mama. When Eenie Meenie (yeah, the Shawn Kingston/J Beibs song - don't judge) came on, when it said eenie meenie miney mo I would point. Needless to say, I glance back and right at that part Ari's little finger is waving through the air pointing, just like mine.

It was probably the neatest thing ever. Ok, maybe not, she does lots of cool things (I mean learning to walk and talk and her now being able to say I Love You Mommy probably most definitely trumps that on the neat list) but still, it was rad.

It really made me feel like I matter. I mean, of course I matter. I'm her source of food, and cleanliness, comfort, all necessities; but this was one of those things where I felt she really thought I am neat, not just the other way around.

Later this evening, we had a dance party in the living room. Not only is it super fun and helps her run off some of her energy before bed, it is also a great calorie burner for mama. We were dancing and laughing and having a grand ol' time. I realized that... Wow, my kid thinks I'm cool. She's probably the only person in the world who sees me for how awesome I really am (kidding, kidding) and that is so... well, awesome. I'll be really sad when I am no longer the coolest person in her universe, when in fact I turn out to be the most uncool person she knows. So for now, I will bask in being this little girl's super cool mom and keep this blog post for when she is older and thinks I am totally lame. Ariana, this cool mama thinks you are the coolest person in her universe, too. More than you'll ever know :)

Who's the Winner Today?

The winner of the Blue Star banner and ornament giveaway donated by the lovely Mrs Flyboy at Trying Our Best is...

Drum roll please...

Momma V!

Congrats Momma V, I will be contacting you shortly to get your mailing addy and get your banner on it's way!

Give it away, give it away, give it away now!

What's up y'all. I bet you're excited for an update. Well, I'm sorry, I don't think this is going to satisfy you in that respect. I know, I know I keep promising the updates. And they will get here - once I organize everything that's been going on in my world within myself I'll be able to share with you all.

However, I do not come to you all today with nothing - I come with fun and happiness and Christmas CHEER! Because I have something better than an update on my silly life - I have a giveaway.

That's right, here is an opportunity once again for you to get something out of this here blog. The lovely Mrs Flyboy at Trying Our Best came to me asking if I would host a giveaway for one of her Etsy items on my blog. Because I 1. Love her to pieces 2. Love giving you stuff and 3. Like the idea of making people happy I grudgingly agreed (kidding - I jumped at the chance).

I am a bad giveaway host because this was supposed to be up before Thanksgiving (yea - late much?!) but hey, I'm here now and I'm a firm believer in expedited shipping so you will get it in time.

Today, we have lovely Blue Flag ornament and banner set!

Here is a photo of the banner. It will be coming to you unframed (to not only save on shipping costs but to also give you the freedom of choosing the frame that best fits your decor).
You will also receive an ornament, a smaller version of the banner, to hang on your tree.
Mrs Flyboy works hard on these and I am honored to be giving one away to one lucky winner.

She included a Gold Star version for me, and I adore it. I can not wait to get the ornament up on my tree (that I have yet to get). The stitching is great quality and you can tell they are made with love and care.

Don't forget to check out her lovely Etsy shop for some of your last minute Christmas shopping!

Oh yeah... the rules (duh). To enter this giveaway you simply just need to follow me and Mrs Flyboy and leave a comment. One entry per person this time, keeping it simple! This giveaway will close at 9 o'clock Tuesday morning, giving me time to get to the post office and get your banner and ornament to you!

Blog Swap - Let Your Hearts Be Light - Chambanachik

Riding the Roller Coaster

This is my second year in a row participating in the milspouse holiday blog swap. Big thanks to Riding the Roller Coaster for hosting this awesome swap. I always have so much fun trading blogs with some of my favorite bloggers. This year, I have gotten the fabulous Chambanachik (you're so awesome!!) to blog for me. I am so excited to have her here and I just know you will enjoy her post as much as I have! You can leave a comment here or over at her blog to leave her some love!

Oh - I totally forgot!! To see my post in this awesome swap, head over to G.I. Joe's Wife where I got the pleasure of posting on her awesome blog!!

Without further ado, Erika of Chambanachik's post:

Her eyes shine brighter than any lights on the Christmas tree. She draws in a big breath and points at
the red and green decorations in wonder. She's "no more than two" like Cindy Lou Who- 17 months to
be exact- but Millie takes in the glory of the holidays with more excitement and joy than anyone I've

Everyone has heard it preached that we should see things through the eyes of a child. And it always
seems a little trite, a little stale, a little recycled to me. Once my daughter came into the world, I
realized what a beautiful concept it really is. My favorite Christmas song, "Have Yourself a Merry
Little Christmas", has the line ,"Let your heart be light." Millie's found the secret to a light heart, I

When I was young, I remember the scent of Christmas cookies would fill the house. I remember
helping my mom stir the batter, and decorating them with icing that stained my fingers. I remember
pulling out ornaments from dusty boxes that smelled like our attic, and turning them over to see what
year I had made them. We helped each other string the big, multicolored lights around the tree, and
Dad would lift one of us up to put the angel at the top. We'd sneak a candy cane here and there, and
deny it if we were caught. We would shake presents for any clues of what they might be. We would
spend hours in snow forts and come inside to homemade hot chocolate.

And just like my parents must have had, our family has bills that we worrying about paying. We have
the stress of getting everything done before the holidays. We are tired after a long day at work or
household chores. A recipe doesn't come out right. A present hoped for won't be bought. A snowfall
interferes with plans. Something goes wrong, and the hopes of the holidays make it seem even more
upsetting than usual.

But Millie doesn't see any of this, just as I didn't see it when I was little. She sees the beauty of the
paper chain hung high and snowflakes taped to her window. She's oblivious to the number of presents
under the tree, or what brand they are, or how much they cost. She hopes for a taste of sugar cookies.
She is thrilled with the Christmas lights everywhere we go. She's content with the family she has
around her. She sees only good things.

There's a line from famous story “A Christmas Carol” by Dickens that reads,“I will honor Christmas in
my heart, and try to keep it all year.” And maybe it isn't possible to do that, although my heart would
like to think so. But we all have this one day each year that has a chance to be magical if we let it. The
stress and worries can wait.

Let this day be a day of joy.

MIA Recap

Oh my blog, how I've missed you so!! I'm sorry for my absence, and honestly this is probably going to be a pretty brief post. I have been on the go-go again (are you surprised). We spent Thanksgiving in Wisconsin with Z's family which was AWESOME and now we're in Maryland. Hanging here for a couple days before I had to LA for the CNN Heroes Awards with some awesome American Widows (and hoping Taryn and the AWP win!) and then finally home. I have a giveaway coming up, which I am going to try to get posted tomorrow as it's a Christmas one!! And I really would like to better update on all the goings-on lately. But for now you get this cheap ass little blurb that I am still alive, sorry :( I also did some road trip segments (really stupid silly little VLogs) on the way out that I'm working on figuring out how to post, so you have that to look forward to (if you really want to laugh at me). The only time I've been on the computer lately has been to do some work for the magazine, and there are some awesome articles in this month's/season's editions both online and in print so make sure you check it out! My air combat experience is told in detail and I'm really proud of both the experience and the piece!! Ok, I'm done blabbing now, I hope everyone is doing well, I'll be back soon - I promise.


I am injured. My wrist is all messed up and sitting here typing is painful! I have so many things I want to tell you guys about but it's just going to have to wait until the pain goes away some. Pain was not going to get in the way, however, of announcing the winner from the Hug-A-Hero doll giveaway!

When I emailed Jenn at Hug-A-Hero, she let me know that she had totally forgot to tell me they'd offer a gift certificate just like the one I'd gotten for me to host a giveaway. And since I'd already told y'all I'd give out one, on me, I decided there would be not one but two lucky winners of Hug-A-Hero dolls.

For the first one, I did what I had said from the beginning and did a random drawing. Taryn sent me an awesome name chooser that looks like a slot machine. I entered everyone's names in however many times they had entered and then I pulled the virtual lever.

The first winner of a Hug-A-Hero doll is...
*drum roll please*

Hooray!! Please email me so we can you your gift certificate!

For the second doll, I realized there were a lot of stories coming in with your entries. Each one touched my heart and I wish I could give a doll to every one who wants one, especially those kids who don't get to see one parent or another as often as one might wish. So I went through the stories, did a little research and chose my second winner not randomly but on a "She so needs a Daddy Doll" reaction.

This winner is Rachelle Vaughn. Rachelle's husband Sgt Ricky Vaughn was killed April 7, 2008, in Iraq. Like my own daughter, Rachelle's son never got to meet his father. Rachelle had expressed interest in the daddy doll immediately, and even though she doesn't blog she entered by leaving a comment and liking on facebook. Rachelle is also very active with Remembering the Brave, a non-profit organization which hosts an annual banquet honoring fallen heroes. Rachelle, I truly think you deserve a doll of Ricky and I am happy to give you a certificate to order one! You can check out a little more about Rachelle and Ricky at Ricky's memorial site.

Thank you so much to everyone who entered. Like I said, I really wish I could give each of you a doll of your hero. Check over at Hug-A-Hero and see if they have any holiday specials coming up, I heard (after Veteran's Day) that they had a Veteran's Day special to receive a free voice recording with an order made on Veteran's Day (would have told y'all about it but like I said, didn't find out til after - boo me!)

Hopefully my wrist will be healed up soon and I'll be back to tell you guys some neat things (and show you a video of me preparing to fly an airplane!)

Happy 236th, Marines!

Happy 236th Birthday to the United States Marine Corps! Woo, you guys sure are getting old, huh? Here's to another 236 good years with the best fighting force in the world!! Oorah and Semper Fidelis!

And don't forget to enter the giveaway if you'd like to win a Hug-A-Hero doll! It closes tomorrow at midnight, EST!

Hug-A-Hero (there might be a giveaway here, wink wink)

I was contacted by the folks over at Hug-A-Hero Daddy Dolls, Inc. to do a product review and there was no way I could turn this one down because, well, daddy dolls are excellent!

Ariana was given a doll similar to those made by Hug-A-Hero shortly after Jonathan passed, although it may have been a different company (I don't even remember where it came from, to be honest). I was excited to be asked by Hug-A-Hero to give a product and review not only because I wanted a doll for myself (yeah, a little selfish), and a back up doll for Ariana (she never goes to bed without her daddy by her side) but I also wanted to do a little comparing with the one we already had.

I am pleased to say that Hug-A-Hero did not disappoint. While there really wasn't much comparison between the two (they were very similar and like I said, I'm not even sure where the first came from) I was very impressed not only with the doll itself but with my complete experience with the company as a whole.

The ordering process was simple and painless. You choose the photo you want and send it in, they do the editing and make sure the background disappears so it is only your hero on the doll. I got to choose one line on the bottom of the doll, and since the first one we have says "Poppa Bear," what we called Jonny while I was pregnant, this one says "To the Moon & Back" kind of our little thing. Then you get to choose the print on the back. The back of Ariana's first one has a pink camo background. I didn't see this available at Hug-A-Hero but that was fine with me because I didn't want two of the same. This time I chose a flag background with stars and stripes. Instead of Jonny in his blues, I chose a photo of Jonny in his camis and viola, all done! The neat thing about the back fabric, is that it is made with a pocket where you can insert little notes or a voice recorded message - very cool.

When my package arrived, it was stamped with an awesome MADE IN THE USA sticker that made me smile. It was wrapped in cellophane with a ribbon tied around it. The packaging showed that care was not only taken in making our doll but packing and sending him to us, as well. I meant to take a photo of that but of course time and thoughts got away from me when tearing into the package.

The doll itself is in the most pristine condition. The ink is very clear and vibrant, his photo stands out and is just so crisp and clear. The editing done is perfect and you can't see a hair of the background. Even the flag pattern on the back had vibrant and beautiful colors.
I wanted to sneak a photo with Ariana holding it in her sleep but that is dangerous to put a flash on a sleeping baby so I had Z sneak it out for a minute to snap these then stealthily replace it

Speaking with Jenn from the company was also a pleasure. She was so kind and so excited to be working with me on the review. All-in-all an awesome experience with Hug-A-Hero.

I used my facebook page to talk to some of you about what daddy dolls meant to you. I think they are such a great little creation and my thoughts are confirmed by the testimonials you all left me on the facebook page:

"The daddy doll my kids got before Zack deployed last summer seriously was a god send. I cant tell you how many times one of the kids would cry for dad but as soon as they held the daddy doll for s little while, it just seemed like their world was ok again." - Bonnie H.

"My boys both have daddy dolls. They go everywhere with us, and get hugs, kisses and noses every night before bed. My oldest (3 years old) says that his daddy doll keeps the monsters away at night. I would buy them over and over again. The only complaint is they are getting DIRTY and I can't get them away long enough to get through the wash." - Heather D.

"It is the only way Julia knows her daddy." - Ally E.

And that's only a few testimonials, the rest can be seen on the facebook page, or if you have your own please leave it here or on the facebook page.

So, with all this talking up the daddy doll I'm feeling the need for a giveaway. Because the people at Hug-A-Hero treated me so well, I'm going to treat one of you so well! In honor of veteran's day coming up, one lucky reader will receive a gift certificate for a Hug-A-Hero doll, on me! The gift certificates do work, it's the way I got mine, and it's way easier than having to mail anything - you'll get to pick out just exactly how you want it to look!

There are lots of ways to enter. If you are leaving all your entries in one comment, please number each one (i.e. 1. leaving a comment 2. I'm a follower 3. Follow you on twitter @dddd).

Enter this giveaway by
1. Simply leaving a comment (Yo! I'm here! I want this daddy doll, man!)
2. Following me (Please leave the name by which you follow)
3. "Liking" Little Pink on Facebook (Dude, I totally gave you a thumbs up!)
4. Following my silly little Tweets (And again, please leave your twitter name so I can follow you back!)

That's it - Easy peasy!! Hope you all enter and good luck to everyone!!

OOPS - forgot to mention - this giveaway will close at midnight on Veteran's Day! That's 1200am EST on November 11!

West Side WHAAAT? Pound Sign BWELA

Woooo I've been hashtagging it up with BWE the last few weeks and it's because I'm pretty stoked about heading to Los Angeles for Blog World Expo.

Last year, BWE was hosted in Las Vegas and it was beyond fun. I learned a lot about blogging, met some super awesome mil bloggers and non-mil bloggers, had fun in the city of sins, and got to speak about social media and the military from a spouse's point of view.

This year, I'm very pleased to have been asked to host a panel on Blogging Through Loss, which you guys know is basically my specialty (ok, my specialty is too fancy of a word, life is more like it). Of course I said yes and am honored at the invite, the folks at BWE work very hard to put on a great conference/expo whatever you want to call it, and it is loaded with awesome folk that you don't typically get to meet except in the virtual sense.

Speaking of meeting virtual people in real life, I'm also super-de-duper excited to announce the my bestie, once just a virtual friend, now heterolifemate, Mandy, will be speaking with me. I am beyond excited to have Mandy by my side for this, and I'm sure our session will be a whirlwind of widow weirdness - one to not be missed out on.

It is not too late to register or virtually register. If you are military, military related, or military supporter, you can even come for free. Mandy and I speak on Thursday. If you can't make it, you can get a virtual conference pass as well and watch our session online. I'm hoping at least a few people will be there, it would be great to meet some more bloggy friends in person! If you're interested in registering, contact for your free registration code.

I'm also super excited to learn more about blogging and social media. It is so fascinating and last year I learned there's so much to it than just writing on blog spot like I do (and since then I've grown to get more involved in social media, hence my pound-signing everywhere).

Well, I should head off to pack now (procrastination at it's best...). Stay tuned for news from BWE, and I'm going to work my hardest to hashtag it up over on twitter (stay tuned by following RachelMrsP or A Little Pink in a World of Camo on facebook!).

Wish us luck and maybe we'll see some of you in LA!


I'm coming to you my lovely bloggy friends, with a plea this morning. I can't believe I haven't asked you all sooner. So, here we go.

The lovely Taryn Davis was nominated as a 2011 CNN Hero. We are all so proud of her and all that she does for us military widows and it would be nice to see her and the American Widow Project win this year. Winning would mean a grant of a large sum of money, which would help the organization plan more trips, reach more widows, etc etc. I can't say exactly what will be done with the money, of course, but I know it will be used to support more widows and to plan getaways.

Now, one thing I don't think a lot of people realize about the getaways is that AWP picks up all expenses minus travel to and from for each of the trips. That's right, each widow that goes only has to pay her own way to get there. Some getaways, like the one in Kennebunk, we are lucky that people make generous donations and take care of us but that is not always the case, and those over at the AWP pick up the tab so the 12-15 widows on the trip can relax, be with other widows, and heal - worry free.

I think it's easy to see then, that the grant offered by the CNN Heroes would be sooo very beneficial to the organization as a whole, thus all military widows who desire to get involved.

It is very easy to vote, you just go this link here, and you can do it with an email address or connect through facebook (I do it that way, fast and easy). You can vote 10 times per day. Please consider voting, it's just a few clicks of your mouse, and passing on so others can vote, too.

I found out today that I was drawn to be one of the guests to actually attend the awards show in LA in December with Taryn and a few other widows and I am so excited and honored to be able to attend this awards show. It is rad that I'm going but it would be way super much more cooler (like that grammar?!) if we won on top of it. So please, if you have a couple seconds to spare, just head on over and vote. Do it for the widows!!

Why Is It So Hard?

I could whine. I could whine about how hard everything seems to be lately. But I just don't want to. I think it's this time of year. For some reason, fall kicks my ass, and I am a total negative nancy. I want to whine but I don't. I want to complain, and kick and scream and throw a tantrum. I want to tell all the people who I'm pissed off at right now how mad I am. I want to tell people that are hurting me how badly they are, even though I'm sure they aren't hurting me intentionally and probably haven't the slightest clue. I'm being sensitive. And stupid.

Why is it so hard to be motivated? Why can't I just focus and get things done? Instead I'd rather run and hide... or sleep until June. None of which is an option. I feel vulnerable lately. I hate that feeling. I'd rather feel in control and I just... don't. And putting it here in the open, I suppose that makes me more vulnerable but it somehow helps. I don't know, makes no sense.

Why is so hard for people to just accept I am the way I am. I'm sorry my "circumstances" inconvenience you or make you feel uncomfortable. I'm sorry "we have different lives now." I'M SORRY THIS HAPPENED. If I could, trust you me, I would take it all back. In a heart beat. You don't think I wish every. single. day. I could have my life back? Unfortunately, I do, but all the wishing and hoping in the world isn't going to change it.

I have to make the best of what I have now. I have to or else I might just fall apart. I have to appreciate what I have, take the opportunities I'm given, hold my head as high as I can and keep trucking.

I'm sorry I'm a fucking lunatic just about every other day. My emotions go from 0-happy-hate in .32 seconds. You think I want to feel this way? You think I like this? I'm working as hard as I can to be normal, to be even, to just... be.

Instead of bailing on me, or writing me off, you should probably man up and face that death is a part of life. And so is sadness. And so is a little insanity. We've all been nuts before. We've all had our days. I'm doing my best but I'm worn out. Expressing my feelings right now is almost fruitless because there are just too many.

No, I'm not "over it." No, I'm not "better." Yes, I'm dating. Yes, I still love and miss him. Yes, it still hurts. Like a motherfucker. Yes, I'm still grieving even though I can laugh. Yes, I still need support. No, I'm not going to ask for it. I want to be strong, but it's impossible to be a brick wall all the time. Today, I'm a sponge. Soft and sad and smelly and full of holes.

I just want to scream. On a side note, mother nature, you're a bitch. Like I don't have enough emotions on a regular basis to deal with.

Sorry for the profanity, it's raw and it's real and it is what it is.

Kennebunk, ME loves Widows

And we love Kennebunk!!!

The weekend of October 14 - 17, I spent in Kennebunk, Maine with the AWP at an inner peace getaway. It was certainly a weekend to remember, as are all the AWP trips I've been on. This organization is such a God send to a military widow and I am so thankful something like this exists.

I've spoke of the American Widow Project before (probably quite a few times) but in case you didn't know, AWP is an organization created by Taryn Davis that is by military widows, for military widows. It's a peer-to-peer org and it's main focus is getaway trips where widows can go and be with other widows and for a few days at least, just be widows without having to worry about... well, anything (you can read my article on Taryn and the AWP in DStripped Magazine). My first AWP trip was to Tybee Island, near Savannah Georgia. I was 5 months into my widow journey at the time, and it was my first leap into accepting my new "W" status. I met so many awesome ladies at the first trip and had such an excellent time that before I was even home I was looking forward to the time I'd get to go again.

A little over a year later, I was headed to my second trip. As you may have seen in a previous post, it was full of travel debacles, but I made it. I entered into a house filled with widows, some familiar faces, some new ones, and I instantly felt at home. That feeling of belonging that I so often fight with - where do I fit? - the question just disappears for me on AWP getaways, because I fit and belong with these women. For one weekend at a time, I get to be surrounded by gals that totally get me, that completely understand this journey and it's amazing.

The trip to Kennebunk was full of amazing surprises.
First, I want to thank Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, and the people who live there for being so accomodating and hospitable to us. We stayed with a lovely woman, Sue, in her gorgeous home. She went out of her way to make sure we felt welcomed and at home, and I know thank you is not nearly enough to express my gratitude to Sue.

Because of my travel issues, I arrived late in the evening, and missed the lobster bake, but I heard it was wonderful and the ladies were so excited to learn how to pick and eat their own lobsters. There were plenty of delicious leftovers to fill me and my travel buddy's tummies upon our late arrival. Then we spent the rest of the evening chatting and catching up.

The next morning, we woke up early and took a small school bus to HB Provisions for a delicious breakfast, completely donated to us by the owners. The food was soooo yummy, I had a complete breakfast (eggs, ham, hasbrowns) on a bagel. I could probably live off that sandwich for the rest of my life. We met George H. Bush the scarecrow. After breakfast we headed into the little bus for our first surprise. We were escorted onto the Bush family compound and spent the morning with former president George H. W. Bush and his wife Barbara. They were absolutely wonderful. It felt like we'd already known them, they were so warm and friendly, not at all like you might expect political leaders to be. Their property was breathtaking and I'm planning on moving in next summer (ok, not really, but a girl can dream, right?!).

After our meet and greet with the Bush's it was back to Sue's house for a quick breather before we met with author Ellen Sue Stern (Elle) for a writing exercise. Elle helped us get deep with ourselves by prompting us to write. I highly enjoyed this part, and learned quite a few new things about myself and my own grieving process. It was great to share with the other gals and be encouraged to feel things that I hadn't realized I had been feeling. It's so nice to be able to talk about these things with grief and have those grieving right next to you to hold your hand and give you a hug of support and love. It was emotional, but it was much needed and I'm thankful for the adorable little journals Taryn had made for each of us to bring my new written feelings home with me.

A CNN camera crew spent the majority of the weekend with us, as Taryn has been selected as one of CNN's Heroes of the Year (go vote for her!!) and our weekend will be included in a segment on the awards show on December 11. After our writing and reflection time, we did some interviews with CNN and had some quality girl time before getting ready for dinner. We had dinner in a fancy little Italian restaurant with delicious food (where Porto was on the dessert menu!) and had a trolley car take us there!

The next morning, we woke early for our surfing lessons! Yup, I went surfing in the ocean in October in Maine. The frigidity of the water on my face reminded me that I am alive! I don't think I've had anything make me feel that alive and invigorated in a long time. Aquaholics, the local surf shop, hooked us up with our surf gear as well as over a dozen surfers to instruct us. I was paired up with Mark who was super encouraging. I actually stood up THREE times! I face planted quite a few as well, but let's focus on the positive. Of course, I can't find a photo for proof but believe me, I stood (might not have been for long, but I HAVE surfed and can cross off another thing on my bucket list!) After surfing we prepared for the Wicked 5K, a 5K Race where people wear Halloween costumes. Taryn and I dressed as scarecrows and biked through town. I felt like a kid again, and it was fun to be totally carefree and just laugh.

Dinner that night was hosted at Beverly's house, a lovely Kennebunk resident who owns the antique shop in town. We were each given gift bags with items from the shops in town. It was clear the people of the town really went out of their way to show us their appreciation for our sacrifice. My favorite part of the bags were the hand written notes that people who donated included. Notes of encouragement and thanks, from complete strangers who just wanted us to know we are appreciated and loved. Thank you Kennebunk, I can't express how much those bags really mean!

Beverly's friend Martha cooked for us that evening and it was a delicious gourmet meal. I decided Beverly's house in Maine on the beach was my dream house and didn't really want to leave (haha).

That evening, we went back to Sue's and had smores by the fire. We all went around and told every other person what we learned from them that weekend. Many people told me they appreciated my humor and how I keep people laughing. It may seem like nothing or silly to some, but that's one of the biggest compliments I can receive. I love to make people laugh and smile, especially a group of people who might need a few more giggles in their lives. I always think if you're not laughing you'll just go through life crying and who wants to spend their time crying. I thank each and every widow at the getaway that weekend for showing me something new, and touching my heart. The bonds of widowhood are thick. No one wants to be part of this life but having you women by my side makes it much more bearable.

I think outsiders looking in would be surprised by the amount of laughs that we shared that weekend. You might imagine a group of widows to be a sad thing to observe. Sure, we cried. Sure, we hugged and had "moments." But the thing I remember most of the weekend is how much we laughed, how freely we were silly, and how much we all embraced life together. From death we have risen and are finding new ways to embrace life, survive, and thrive.

To each person who was at this getaway, thank you. Thank you for finding the strength to accept your "W" and be there with us. Thank you for accepting that you are alive and choosing to live and to laugh. Thank you for sharing your stories and your husbands with all of us. Thank you for letting each of our heroes live on through our stories and our laughter and our vivaciousness. Thank you for letting me just be me. Thank you, with all my heart.

I Already Failed

Ok so I already failed the NaBloPoMo and have not posted every day since I started (and I started late - double fail). Booooooo. I'm a loser. In my defense I was on the road most of the day yesterday so blogging was nearly impossible. Anyway, let's talk about today.

So today, I'm heading up to Maine (I typed that "Marine" at first - clearly my brain is stuck lol!) this weekend for an American Widow Project getaway. I'm super excited because widow time is just excellent for the soul. I'm excited not only to see friends I haven't gotten to see in a while, but to meet new ladies, enjoy being able to talk about the journey of widowhood with people who have "been there - done that" and don't look at me like I'm nuts, and be in Maine in the fall! Oh autumn in New England, you can't beat it!!

Today has been interesting though. I should have been there by now. In fact, I should have been there 4 hours ago. But instead, I am sitting in BWI typing this here post. Why, you ask? Well, because I think I have poop luck, that's all I can say to explain it!

My dad drove, and Z came along, to drop me off at the airport. We left in plenty of time to get here in time, but of course there were 4 accidents on the highway. Traffic was mostly stopped. My flight was supposed to leave at 245 and we arrived at the airport at 222. I went to the ticket counter and it turns out I could fly, but my bag could not because it was after baggage check time. I tried to see if my bag could just catch a later flight and of course that wasn't happening and there was no way I was getting my huge bag on the plane carry-on style. So, standby on the next flight it was. And of course, the next flight doesn't leave until 935 tonight. Sigh.

So, dad, Z, and I went out and had some lunch at Panera. It's really weird because when Jonathan left from here to NC, I drove him down and accidents kept us from being on time that day, too. He and Brad missed their flight and once it was worked out with their officers and they secured a later flight, we had lots of time to burn. We went and had lunch - at Panera - and then went to Loafers, a bar near there and had some drinks. That's where Jonathan dropped to one knee and proposed to me. I thought about that a lot today as history slightly repeated itself. Except this time no Jonathan and certainly no proposal. Just accidents, traffic, late flights, and Panera. It was good remembering though. In fact, it didn't make me sad, it made me happy remembering it and telling dad and Z the story.

Anyway, we had our lunch then swung by my college on the way back to the airport because I had to pee so bad. I went in to one of the academic buildings and did my pee thing and of course was then remembering my college days, too. Again, happy memories. Finally got to the airport at 530 because I couldn't check my bags or head to the gate until 4 hours before the flight. Go to check my bag and what do you know - my bag was 13.5 pounds overweight.

Here's what happened... you see, I have a huge problem making decisions. Currently, my suitcase holds clothing suitable for 4 different states, 4 different reasons to be there, 4 different climates. Because during this trip to MD, I'll also be traveling to Maine, New York, and Los Angeles. Well, I started going through the suitcase but didn't want to leave anything behind... just in case. Then, I wanted all my shoes (6 or 7 pair... plus the pair I'm wearing) to travel with me... just in case. I never know what I'm going to feel like wearing! So, I packed it all. Plus toiletries. Then, two carry on items - my diaper bag which had my laptop and some Jonny items in it, and my purse. I get to the counter, get told I'm 13.5 lbs overweight and I begin... "rearranging."

Let's just say I'm a magician and you should probably call me Mary Poppins. Because you know what? I did it! I found a home for all 13.5 lbs in my carry on baby bag and purse! The guy at the counter even gave a hoot and let me know how impressed he was. I'm carrying on 3 pairs of shoes, a pair of jeans, a sweater, 2 DStripped magazines and one of my blog books in addition to what I was already carrying on. And it is HEAVY. But I am feeling like a champion. Now, if only I could just get on this stinking plane and head to Maine... Still an hour and a half to wait, and have to wait through standby because I'm not guaranteed a seat!
Thank you, Photobooth, for keeping me entertained, even if I do look like a lunatic to by-standers

Oi, what a day. All I can say is I'm glad I'm used to sitting in airports. I'm entertaining myself with the interwebs (which here in BWI costs money - ew) and doing a little worky work. I am sooo ready for some serious widow time, I'll probably be even more crazierwsee, it's setting in already) than normal by the time I get there!


Did you know... it is National Blog Posting Month? Yeah, I didn't either. But now that I do know, I'm sooo participating. I signed up over at BlogHer to get involved (my profile is still pending approval at this time), I think it will be neat to try to blog once a day for the (rest of the) month. I'm a little behind but I will work my hardest to be a daily poster for the rest of the month! You will all be tired of hearing from me, I'm sure.

So I guess I should do a real post now instead of just saying I'm going to post everyday, huh?

Well, today is the day that the boyfriend is finished with the Marine Corps. That's right, his terminal leave starts today. In fact, he should be heading back to the house any minute now. I'm both excited and a little nervous. Excited because we'll be able to do what we want and not have to wait for leave to be approved but nervous because we're not sure what he's going to do next and because I don't really remember how it works in civilian world. In the military world, you're united with other spouses/significant others by situation. You're all in this together and you seem to make friends by circumstance. You make battalion friends, deployment friends, etc etc. How do people make friends in civilian world? Work? School? Still living in Jacksonville this isn't a big issue, but if we end up moving like we've discussed, I'll have to make friends (unless I move back home... then I've got friends there ;D) So it's all a bit exciting, a new endeavor, but nerve wracking none the less. Here's to a new adventure!

What else is going on... well we had a nice awesome weekend. Maggie was here with her 2 kids so Ariana had lots of opportunity to PLAY! We had an awesome Pampered Chef party and I would like to give a HUGE thanks to everyone who ordered. I made my goal and will be able to get the deep covered baker for 60% off!! I'm pretty excited about that. I also enjoyed lots of time with Mags, it's not often I get to see her and there was lots to catch up on.

Ariana has gotten to be quite the diva. I can't believe how fast she is growing. I know everyone told me it would go by so quickly but I'm still astounded how fast she's growing and how smart she is. I recently had to give her her first hair cut. Her bangs were in her eyes and she wouldn't let me put clips in so a bang trim it was. At first, I'll admit, I wasn't a huge fan because they were a little short however now I think they are super cute! She sat so still for her cut too, just watching mommy with the sheers! She's such a big girl :)

It's nearing lunch and nap time so I'm going to head out of here, but expect more from me later!

Some Responses

Hey there frans.
First, I want to encourage everyone on blogger to please, please PLEASE make sure your settings are so I can respond to you via email if you leave me a comment. I love responding back to people but lately I haven't been able to respond to many because it comes up "No-reply" and that makes me sad. But because a couple people had some pretty good questions, I'm using this post to reply to two comments I recently got, that maybe others are wondering as well.
Mrs. Y and ArmyWife88, this post is for you!

Mrs. Y commented about the Pampered Chef Party I'm hosting on Saturday, "If you give me the link (and it can be shipped to me) I will buy something from your party. I live in Norfolk and getting married on Friday and can't make the drive down. Saturday we are doing Fleet week here (no not part of our honeymoon we are waiting for that)."

I would love love love if anyone interested wanted to order online. The link is: and just click on "Shop Online" and enter me as your hostess (Rachel Porto). Thanks to any and every one who makes online orders! It gets shipped directly to your home, a neat thing about Pampered Chef, so you don't have to worry about me shipping it and finding out where you live! MWAH HA HA (kidding) but fo-reals, if you're interested, there's how you can do a little easy shoppy-shoppy and help me get some cool free stuff for hosting a party and help out my girl Maggie!

ArmyWife88 left a comment with a question I thought was very interesting, a little bit deep, and I have no problem addressing, "I was just wondering if it was weird to go from calling you're spouse husband to calling your new spouse boyfriend? I hope this doesn't come off as rude just curious :) Love the pics by the way!!"

Definitely doesn't come off as rude, at least not to me. I'm pretty open when it comes to things like this, and I like to share my experiences, so feel free to ask away (and if/when someone asks something that is rude, don't worry, I'll let ya know). Anyway, the short answer to the question is Yes. I was, of course, a girlfriend and then a fiancee before I was a wife. But the last thing I was was a wife. Going back to girlfriend was definitely a weird jump. Especially, for me anyway, in the military life. As many of the significant others know, a girlfriend or fiancee to someone in the military doesn't really amount to much whereas the spouse is "more important" by so many eyes (not always fair, but let's face it, that's typically how it goes). When I was the girlfriend/fiancee to Jonathan, I could barely get any information unless it was via Jonny and even then they (they being his command, not inclusive to him) didn't want to keep me in the loop very much. But I found once we were married it changed and I had much more access to information and support. I know that Family Readiness does support any kind of SO but I didn't really know that before because it wasn't really made known to Jonathan when I was "just" his fiancee. Now being Z's girlfriend, it's kind of the same thing, I don't really know what's going on unless I ask Z. The difference this time though, is that I'm not as invested in it. I'm sure some people are going to take this wrong and it's certainly nothing against Z but it's kind of a "been there, done that" type attitude. I've already been a wife, I already know what goes on, I've already done all that and I don't quite have the desire to be as involved as I once was, as far as his battalion goes. I certainly still like to be involved in military causes, more so now on the widow end, but when it comes to his work I'm just kind of like ehh he'll let me know when things are important. Also, he's getting out (terminal leave likely to start this week or Monday!!!) so it's not like there's anything really to be involved in anymore.

As far as just the terminology, it is weird saying boyfriend again too. Sure, I wasn't a wife for that long (he died when we'd been married 10 months) but once you're a wife, you expect to be a wife forever and that to be your last title. No one expects to again become girlfriend. I am surprised that I don't really slip with it though, don't accidentally call Z the "H word." That's probably because when I think "Husband" I think Jonathan. Period. Maybe one day that will change and I'm sure that will be a new obstacle in and of itself but for now, Jonny's the husband, Z is the boyfriend and boy when I talk about the both of them interchangeably in public the looks I get! Haha.

So there ya have it, a little Q and A with Mrs P. If there's anything you might be wondering, please don't hesitate to ask. Also, I'm working on a widow resources list (I know I have the inspiration quotes, but this is going to be resources and support) because I am often asked questions like "How do I help my friend go through this time?" or approached by 'newer' widows and I'd really like to have something put together that I can direct people to in order to help those starting this journey, so stay tuned for that.

Happy Hump Day everyone!


My boyfriend is back! Woo hoo!!!!! He's actually been back for 4 days but I've been a bit busy *wink wink* No, seriously, it's been kind of insane around these parts.

A couple days before he came home, I headed down to Beaufort, SC to spend a couple days with one of my bestest friends from back in the day, Maggie. Her home was so beautiful and she had awesome Halloween decorations and it was just so nice to finally get down there to see her. I got a tour of Beaufort and all it's historical-ness (the south is so awesome when it comes to that, isn't it?) as well as a tour of Parris Island. The highlight of the tour was getting to see a DI yell at some recruits. That was basically awesome. We also went on a mini hike, saw some gators, and ate at an interesting restaurant with a very interesting waitress. Haha. It was a great visit!

Z got home on Friday, I picked him up from where he was working so I wouldn't miss one second with him. Of course we got lost on the way home but it was so awesome that he was next to me that I really didn't mind. I was really surprised because I thought Ariana would be weird, she's going through the stranger danger phase and it was almost 3 months he was gone, but she lit up when she saw him. Smiled and started pointing. On Saturday I had the surprise for Z - his mommy flew in from Wisconsin for just the night! Since Z is getting out of the Corps any day now, it was a good time for his mom to come and visit because she hadn't seen where he'd been living yet and he might not be living in JVille much longer! (who knows for certain, though, haha).

It certainly has been a good 4 days having him home. Ariana seems to be pretty stoked he's back too, she just kinda stands near him all the time. And now because I am a fan of lists I will list some reasons it's great to have him back

  1. I am sleeping again. I sleep much, much better with him by my side
  2. There is a pot roast cooking in the slow cooker as I type this
  3. Ariana is smiling (not that she wasn't before, but extra smiles are extra good)
  4. I'm not the only one changing poopy diapers
  5. I am laughing a lot more
  6. He just makes me haaapppppyyyyy
Play time already!

And here are reasons he is a turd
  1. He makes me go to bed early (ok not make, but he says my not sleeping is not healthy and begs me to go to bed by 1130/12. YIKES! It's actually really good but I still complain about it!!)
  2. He farts. And smells.
  3. That's really all I have, I'm super glad to have him back. I could have gone on longer with the "Yay" list but I'm not trying to make anyone barf.
I'm also glad that he is who he is, because right now is a tough time for me and he is so patient and understanding with me and my emotions. Ha he's more understanding with my emotions than I am most the time haha.
What would I do without him to style my hair for me?

Tonight we'll be going to the Onslow County Fair. I've gone every year that I've been living in JVille. I'm pretty excited. And I'm hoping I can get Ariana on some rides without being terrified like she was in Disney!

Also, just a quick note, I'm having a pampered chef party at my house (in Jacksonville) on Saturday. If any of my bloggy friends in the area would like to come, please let me know and I'll give you the details, the more the merrier!!!

Stay connected with Mrs P via facebook and twitter

Just a Quickie

Just wanted to give a quick shout out before bed! I've been pretty busy lately. Mostly doc/dentist appointments and trying to get the house organized. Not only because Z comes back in a mere 2 days (EEE!) and I've got a huge surprise for him (can't disclose it here just in case he peeks!) but also because I needed just any excuse to get my house in order. I've got to say it's been a huge success. Especially with a good friend of mine who's been cracking the whip and making me work and helping out a ton!

Tonight I did some arts and crafts with my friend. It was really nice, I really miss having crafting time - reminds me of my college days. There's probably 1,000 other things I should have been doing but hey, why not some time for fun (and something that truly takes my mind of things - cutting and placing bits of paper woo!) with friends.

This is the time of year when the funk creeps in the most. I know I've been kind of a bummer to some of my friends lately and I am gracious for those who take it and still love me and do their best to cheer me up. It's the time when I start getting bam-bamed by so many anniversaries and memories. Happy ones, of course, but they make me miss him so badly. That's why it's good I've got so much to look forward to during this time and it's great timing for Z to be coming home - he's good at cheering me up and when I can't be cheered just being there for the rough moments. I finally broke in and went to a psychologist today (Head shrinker. Hey I'm allowed to say that since that's what I initially wanted to do, and I just think the term's funny - don't get offended). It was pretty great and I am feeling confident there will be some breakthroughs with my crazy anxiety, so that's another helping hand through these funky months ahead.

Tomorrow I get to head down to SC and see one of my closest and oldest friends (my matron of honor from our wedding!) and spend a couple days with her and her family before I see Z. I'm very excited about that, too. Like I said, lots of fun things happening to help keep me upbeat from being a complete drag. I don't like being that person but sometimes I can't help it.

Another cool thing, today I got an email from an editor at Reader's Digest informing me this here blog has been named one of Reader's Digest Best Blogs and will have a mention in their Dec-Jan issue! I was both super shocked and super excited about the news. It's a huge honor, to me, to be a best blog anywhere, let alone a publication as large and widespread as Reader's Digest. I still can't believe anyone cares about my ramblings, so thank you so much to all who follow me and take the time to read the musings of a slightly (ok, let's face it - completely) crazy widow trying to make sense of her thoughts.

Well, exhaustion seems to be setting in and I've got a lot to do tomorrow before heading down to SC so I'm off here, just wanted to let everyone know I'm still alive and kickin'!
Don't forget - it's hump day, it's almost the weekend! Keep your chin up and push through the rest of the week!

Stay connected with Mrs P via facebook and twitter


It's common knowledge with my friends and family (Hi mom!) that I'm exceptionally disorganized. I don't think DISorganized really sums it up, it's more like UNorganized - complete lack of organizational skills. It's very strange for someone with as much anxiety and OCD tendencies as me (LOL) to lack any sense of how to organize, but it's true. As a kid, my room was always messy, but it was my messy and I could find things. My desks and binders in school were always a problem. Maybe it's laziness, I have a bad habit of just stacking things, setting them in piles (am I a hoarder? Maybe).

It never really bothered me, because usually I could find things (and my memory wasn't always this bad so I didn't forget things left and right) and it was just my way of doing things. However, recently I've really wanted to get organized. Get some systems behind my madness, and honestly make things look better than just piles here and there that I have to root through when looking for something.

So, I've settled to be a better homemaker and essentially mom but digging deep with in to find that organization itch that I know is buried somewhere within all the OCD tendencies. With the help of the ever-addicting pinterest and stumbleupon, I've come across some really cool ideas that make organizing look not only easy but fun and let's face it - cute.

Today, I made a system for my mail. My mail is one of the biggest problems in my house. I go through it when I get it, look at what interests me and then leave the rest piled up until it gets so big I finally file it away in the office. The laying around part had really started taking over my kitchen table and my coffee table and I knew there had to be an easy solution. I'd seen lots of examples of mail organization systems hanging on walls via pinterest, but that wasn't really the route I wanted to go. That's when I remembered the magazine basket I'd acquired from a gift or something, some how, that's always just sat in my bedroom, empty, staring at me begging for use. This afternoon, I made this:
Sure it's not super fancy, but it serves it's purpose and I practiced the good art of "Reuse" in the Reduce, Recycle, Reuse theory. All it is is the magazine basket and a piece of a box cut with "Cut, Shred, File, Pay" printed on the top with sharpie. Easy peesy, and it keeps the mail off my table and I know what I need to do with it when the basket gets full! It will help keep track of what bills are still left to pay, too. The basket was big enough I could even get some other clutter off my counter tops when I included blank envelopes, pens, and memo pads that had been lying around. It may not be much but I'm proud.

Another down fall of my lack of organization is my grocery shopping habits. I just kind of buy and then try to figure out what to make with what I've got. With a baby though, I can't run out last minute when I've finally figured out what meal to make and there's a little something missing. I've heard lots of people rave about meal planning and Jonny and I actually used to do it (just on paper) back in the day to help us budget (it helped save A LOT of money). So I realized it was a great habit to get back in to. I'm a big fan of white boards (or writing on mirrors with dry erase markers) and inspired by many different meal planning systems on pinterest, I came up with this tonight:
Still not the most elegant, but I'm actually really proud of it. It's just scrapbook paper that I wrote on with my trusty sharpie again and stuck in a frame. I hooked it up to the side of a kitchen cabinet with those command strips as not to destroy the cabinet. I think it's pretty cute and goes well with the decor in the kitchen and can really help us figure out what we're eating and what to buy for the week.

So there you have it, Mrs P's attempt at organization. I know many of you out there are domestic godesses (I still read even though I don't comment much!) so please, by all means, leave your organizational inspiration in the comments section! I'm most interested in organizing laundry doing (I feel like I do 80 thousand loads a day and man do I HATE putting it away), the laundry room, and closet space. Any other organizing tips are appreciated as well, as I'm sure even the smallest thing will help me get on track!

Happy Friday everyone, hope you've all had a great week!

Sleep Issues (Part II)

Thank you to everyone for your comments on my Night Time Mommy Woes post. It is good knowing I'm not the only mom who's experienced this. It seems that Ariana is sleeping better these days. Maybe it was a teeth thing, maybe it was a nervous thing, maybe she just didn't feel like sleeping last week! I'll probably never know and more than likely it will happen again. She is back to taking good naps during the day, too, instead of sitting and talking the whole nap time. Woo hoo! Once again, thank you all for your support. Being a first time momma it's always good to have insight from other mommas out there.

Now that her sleep issues are mostly cleared up, mine are kicking in again. What am I talking about, I don't think they ever stopped. I'm a natural night owl. Have been since I can remember, really. If I had my way I'd be able to stay up all night and sleep in til like noon every day. But of course, I don't have my way ;) Lately, though, my sleep issues have been worse than normal. Last night was pretty rough. It seems at night my anxiety kicks in really bad. I lay there and just think, think, think. I'm incredibly scared of losing people I love, especially since Jonny died. I've always been fearful of it but, reasonably so, it's kicked up ten fold since he died. At night I just lay there and see horrifying images in my head or imagine what I'd do if something happened or how I'd get somewhere in time. It's terrifying. My heart races, my chest tightens, and my brain buzzes. I feel there are thousands of cinder blocks sitting on top of me and all around me. Then I think about other worries too, more normal ones - money, appointments, the like. The cinder blocks pile on. Then of course my mind always goes to Jonathan and the bricks are so heavy I can barely breathe. It's not always in that order of course, but it's similar thoughts and so much weight on me. During the day, I'm fine. I know things are fine I don't worry as much (ok, I'm not fine I'm still anxious but not nearly the way I am at night) but at night it's quiet and I'm not doing anything so every irrational thought on the planet has time to plant a seed in my already over-active imagination.

It's been worse lately. I think part of it is the bed I'm sleeping in. I'm in the room I was in when I found out Jonny was going in to Marjah (that's an awful story in and of itself) and some nights, even when I'm not thinking about the other things, I think of that night I found out and I feel it all over again. I was so upset that night I ended up puking. In hind sight, it's almost as if I knew, as if my subconscious knew that him going into Marjah would mean...
I remember feeling so bad freaking out that night because most my friends husband's were already there, some were in the actual push and some had already seen their brothers die before their eyes. And here I was, my husband had been "safely" tucked behind the wire was just heading in and I was losing it. So I lay in that same bed these nights and I replay that night in my mind. My stomach starts to turn over and I feel the screams wanting to be unleashed building up in my mind -- DON'T GO.

Replaying that awful night does nothing, obviously, to help with the anxiety that already builds itself up at night time. I'm thinking maybe if I get it out, write it down, maybe I can let it go? Just a little bit? So that maybe I can get some sleep. There's nothing wrong with the room or the bed, the bed is super comfy. During the day I could lay there all day if I had the chance. And the memories don't hit every single night just some of them. Ugh I don't know I just wish the constant anxiety would go away. I wish I didn't have to stay up until my eyes were closing themselves to sleep. Even at home in my own bed I do that - I keep myself awake until I can't any longer - less time to think before sleep takes over.

I try counting backwards, I try singing in my head, I try thinking of happy things, I try focusing on my breathing, I try checking out facebook just to get my mind on something else... nothing seems to work. Anyone out there have any good strategies for calming your mind, releasing the pressure of an impending panic attack and falling asleep? I'm all ears!

Sometimes You're Wrong (And It's Ok...

as long as you're open and honest about it).

The last few days have been fun. I'll get to the title of this post eventually but some bus-nasty and a recap first.
-- There is an official "Little Pink" fan page on facebook. So, if you like this blog and think I'm neat, head to FB and "Like" A Little Pink in a World of Camo over there, too! Or you can just click here. I really appreciate that so many people have sought me out on facebook, but my friends list has become a little more than I bargained for and I've found I'm losing touch with my close friends and family so I think a fan page might be an easier way for me to manage.
-- I will be at the Blog World Expo again this year. This year, I'll be running a panel on the military track called "Blogging Through Loss." I am honored that Blake who works with BWE has asked me to return and this year MandyMy will be on my panel with me. Blake told me they were looking for someone who was a non-milblogger to join me and the first person I thought of was a fellow widsta who also happens to be one of my best friends. Who better to go to LA and speak with?! So if you're at BWE stop by our panel or just hit me up on FB or twitter!

Ok, now down to the meat. This weekend, I got to spend some time with some of my closest friends in Maryland. I love the time I get to see them all because it's few and far between that I get these opportunities. On Saturday, I went to Virgin Free Fest with my good friend Britt and met up with our other friend Maryana. I had a blast! I didn't know any of the bands playing but I definitely found some bands that are new to me that I LOVE and were so fun live. I had a great time. A huuuuge thanks to Britt for inviting me. I ended up wearing jeans and it was hot (I thought I could handle it being used to NC weather but I was wrong) so I ended up purchasing some clothes there and changing. I had a "hipster-for-a-day" wardrobe. It was neat.

That evening, I went down to Federal Hill, one of my favorite places to go out, and met up with Amanda and Chelsea and their fiancees and some of their friends. I had a blast with them as usual. I love Fed Hill, it's just so fun and reminds me of my college days when I was there just about every weekend.

That evening, I spent some time chatting with one of the girls' fiancee's that I've known for years. He complimented this here blog and made me blush. I'm very humble and modest about what's going on here, it's just one silly girl and her crazy thoughts - but it was nice especially considering I didn't expect him to be a reader. We got talking about politics and I of course ended up calling the president some names because I am not his biggest fan and I was pretty intoxicated (ok, I was on the verge of hammered, I'll be honest). He is a staunch Republican but he defended the president in the fact that he is our president and deserves our respect as such. Sure, we don't have to like him but there's no use for immaturity either. He put me in my place and I realized I was wrong. I know nothing about politics which I've admitted before (I always want to know/learn more but I really have trouble grasping it) and I'm angry at him for more personal reasons than anything (whether the reasons are actually his fault don't matter in the mind of an angry person seeking blame). We talked a long time, though, and he brought up some great points. Certainly not defending the current president's policies, but the fact of respect and what arguments are worth it. If you're going to dislike him, do it for the right reasons - his policies and the ways he runs the country. I admit when I'm wrong and I heard what he had to say and I took it all in. I don't remember the full conversation, for obvious reasons, but I'm glad it was had and it will certainly make me think twice. I may be angry and I may have dumb opinions but I am also very open minded and like to hear what others have to say and am willing to change my thinking when I know I'm wrong. So thanks to you for that whole conversation - you know who you are.

We also talked a little about 9/11 coming up. I chose not to post this year and instead remained silent. Whether or not that was the right decision, I couldn't tell you. I was very overwhelmed by the news and all of the media attention broadcasting the events of that day 10 years ago. I certainly agree we should remember, and it's a huge part of the American history, however re-watching that day over and over, it's tough and I often wonder if seeing the horrifying images is really what we need. Yes, we need to remember. Yes, even our children should know (in my opinion - I know Ariana will know when the time is right) I just know if I were a family of one of those who died it would kill me to watch it over and over and over, I'm glad there's no news footage of Jonny's incident because reading what happened in words is hard enough. It doesn't mean I wasn't thinking about that day all day long, I just chose to be respectfully silent instead. Just like last year though, I wish I could hug every widow from that day and let them know they are not alone. I read the People article where the kids who had been in their mommies wombs that day were speaking out now at 10 years old. It broke my heart and I cried in line at the super market thinking of what my baby girl is going to say in 10 years. These are kids just like her who never got a chance to meet their dads. I'm glad they chose to put their thoughts in the issue, though, I think the kids who suffered aren't often recognized and it's an awe-inspiring tribute to their fathers and the perfect perspective, in my point of view, for the 10th anniversary.

Of course, I honor our troops every day. Being a military spouse and daughter, I have seen and experienced firsthand the sacrifices our men and women in the military have to make each day. Let us not forget, however, those who go to work every day. As my friend's fiancee (I'd call him out but I think he may appreciate his anonymity) pointed out when we were talking that evening, America was first built on manufacturing and producing things. People working, and working hard, to make a life for themselves. So let not be forgotten those who work every day. Those who make the things we take for granted. They deserve some recognition and some honor, too. My mom always says, "It takes all kinds to make the world go round" and it also takes all people and all jobs to make a country run. If there weren't people working, making things, protecting and serving, doing paper work, saving lives, delivering babies, picking up garbage, growing food... everything, we wouldn't be where we are today as a nation. So to EVERYONE out there who works and who makes America what it is today, Thank You.

I'm honestly not quite sure if this post made sense to anyone but me and the person who had the conversation, honestly it was conceived from some drunk ramblings on a Saturday night, so I wouldn't be surprised if it didn't. But I just wanted to say that my mind has, once again, been opened and I am reminded, yet again, how proud I am to be an American.

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