Family Vacation: Road Trip to Naples Florida

The first part of our family vacation was spent in Valdosta, Georgia. Max and I showed his parents the city we’ve called home for the past year or so. Chuck and Rene got to see where Max works, what his … Continue reading

Family Vacation: Moody Air Force Base

Max has technically been stationed at Moody Air Force Base since October of 2012. Luckily for him (unluckily for us), he’s been deployed roughly 9 of the 17 months he’s lived here. I say luckily for him because more than … Continue reading

Return to Hodgepodge and a Homecoming

Happy 2014 hodgepodgers! Yes, I took a brief hiatus from blogging for the first few weeks of the new year. Allow me to explain 🙂 First off, every year I do a cleanse to rid my body of built up … Continue reading

Happy New Year! 2013: A Year in Review

The past 365 days have been full of ups and downs, momentous occasions and heartache for me. I have to admit that this time last year, I looked forward to the coming year with an unusual amount of optimisim. I’ve always been an optimistic person, but in this case, when I looked down the road, I felt that there were a lot of milestones in my life that I couldn’t wait to get to. On the other hand, I was a smidge worried that 2013 – an unlucky number to start off with – would deal me only misfortune instead of happiness.

The beginning of the year started off with a bang and went strong until about September (you’ll see why below). I was living in Boston with some of the best friends a girl could ask for. I was in my final semester in grad school and couldn’t wait to graduate. My sister welcomed a new little boy to their family which means I was an aunt again. But more than anything, I was moving from Massachusetts to Georgia to finally be reunited with the love of my life. And we were getting married.

These were all the positives. The negatives on the other hand…

Probably the biggest negative was my move to Georgia. It was a move I’d been looking forward to honestly. Max and I were going to be living within driving distance of each other; we’d get to spend every weekend together – that was a lot better than seeing each other every 3-4 months for a weekend at a time. If only that would have worked out how I’d envisioned.

Max ended up getting deployed twice this year – once from February through June (he came back early for our wedding) and then again this September. He’s been gone roughly 9 months out of 2013. As a June bride, we’ve been married for 6 months, half of which he’s been deployed to Afghanistan and away from me. Boo.

So I guess you could say that living in Georgia hasn’t exactly panned out how I’d thought. I moved here to be closer to my husband, not half a world away. Not to mention, I’m not exactly a huge fan of Georgia. In fact, I can’t stand living here. I wouldn’t lie to you! Georgia kinda sucks, especially middle Georgia where the funnest thing to do is to drive at least 2 hours in any direction for any semblance of fun (Atlanta, Savannah, Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina).

Sometimes that’s how it works though, right? Life’s little twists and turns take you by surprise and what you thought was a blessing can actually turn out to be a letdown.

Oi. Things got a little deep there for a minute, huh? Let’s move on to 2014 and how I’m wildly excited for it 🙂

2014. How I’m so excited you’re finally here.

Max comes home to me soon. We have a ton of trips we’re looking forward to taking, including our family vacation down to Florida, a trip out to Savannah for St Patty’s, a jaunt down to Universal Studios to check out Harry Potter World, a friend’s wedding in Tennessee.

The best part about all of this? Max and I will be together. For the whole year. No deployments for him! Yay! Now that’s quite a turn around from 2013. And that’s exactly why I’m beyond thrilled to have 2013 behind us.

We’ll be traveling, we’ll be having fun, we’ll be together, and we’ll be celebrating our first anniversary and untechnically our first holiday season together as a couple (we missed the first one due to his deployment).

How did your 2013 pan out? Was it full of ups or downs or both? 

What’re you most excited about for 2014?

Close Call

Today has been a day filled with ups and downs. Work wise, things were the norm. I got in early to finish up some paperwork that I didn’t manage to get to the day before. Around 8:30 a small contingent of folks from our office made the journey out to the Carl Vinson Veteran’s Hospital to drop off some holiday goodies, visit with veterans and share a laugh or two.

If you’ve never visited a VA hospital, it can be somewhat of an emotional roller coaster. The men and women there are very mentally alert, but their bodies can’t always keep up. Such is the cruel reality of old age. You can see them struggling to communicate or move around the hospital wing and it breaks my heart every time.

With this particular visit, I put together candy bags and individually addressed over a hundred and sixty cards so that every veteran could have some holiday cheer. It’s such a small token and I have no idea if the vets even like it. I’m hoping that one day if I’m ever in their shoes though that someone will be willing to sign some Christmas cards and stop by for a cup of hot cocoa or a game of go fish with me during the holidays. What goes around, comes around, right?

By the way, you don’t need to have served in the military to visit a veteran’s hospital; contrary to popular believe, this isn’t a prerequisite. Anyone can visit. These folks have amazing life stories; many of them are the kind that great novels are fashioned after. If you have a free weekend or evening, I would recommend taking some time to stop by your local veteran’s hospital. You won’t regret it, I promise.

As the bus made it’s way back to the base, I received a rather distressing phone call from my mom asking if I had heard from Max lately. When I told her no, she took a deep breath and said the words that I’ve feared more than anything: there’s been a helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan.

If you’re a new hodgepodger, my husband, Max, is currently deployed to southern Afghanistan along with some good friends of ours.

Somehow my heart skipped a few beats while at the same time speeding up at an alarming rate. My breathing shallowed and it was as if the whole world went quiet. All I could focus on was her voice and the mental checklist I was rattling off in my head.

If something had happened, I would have known about it.

I would be the first one to know.

But I hadn’t heard from him in a while.

I tried to keep my voice as level as possible as I politely hung up the phone.

Being on a bus with only my iPhone, I turned to google. Several search combinations later, I discovered that there was in fact a helicopter crash, but that it was a UH-60 Black Hawk, not a HH-60 Pave Hawk.

For those of you who don’t know the distinction, Black Hawks are flown by the Army and Pave Hawks are flown by the Air Force. Really, they’re practically the same airframe, but with a different paint job  and name.

But if the average Joe doesn’t know this distinction, then maybe a reporter would confuse them as well. My mind picked away at my logic, instilling more doubt and fear in me as the bus rolled on down the winding country highway.

I sent Max a short message via Facebook.

Black Hawk crashed near Kabul. 6 US soldiers killed. Please send me a message and let me know you’re ok. Love you.

And I waited.

In the meantime, I called my mom back to tell her I was 85% sure that the crash was Army related and that I believed Max was fine. If you’ve ever been in a situation like this then you know that 85% sure isn’t good enough; you want 100% absolutely positive, without a doubt, you’d stake your own life on it sure.

And then the phone call came from the commander’s wife: it wasn’t Max and it wasn’t even his unit or any of his buddies he deployed with.

Nervous exhale. Thank God.

I felt happy, relieved even, that Max was fine and as safe as possible at the moment.

On days like today I’m thankful.

Thankful that Max is safe.

Thankful that we’re both young and very much alive.

Thankful that we have such a great support system and family.

Thankful that there are still men and women who are willing to give the ultimate sacrifice: their life.

Thankful that I visited local veterans who have gone before me to protect my our way of life.

But while I’m thankful for all of this, there’ still a cold reality that I can no longer ignore. Today I heard harrowing news, but in the end, I was told that my significant other, my other half, my husband is still alive and well. Others are not as lucky. Sometime within the next day or so, six families will get a phone call that will change their life for forever. A husband, brother, uncle, or son is not coming home. And it’s the week before Christmas. (To my knowledge, none of the fatalities were women.)

For many Americans, we’ve pulled out of the war; for many, they believe soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines are no longer putting their lives on the line. This isn’t the case.

My heart goes out to the helicopter rescue community and fellow brothers in arms today.

Starbucks: My Second Home

There’s something magical about Starbucks. The light atmosphere, the soft alternative and festive music playing in the background, the ridiculously comfy leather chairs. Whenever I need to be productive, gather my thoughts, or mellow out, I always head to a … Continue reading

Guest Bedroom Design Snippets

My master bedroom projects are coming to a close as I type. With the end on the near horizon, I’ve set my sights on finishing up another part of the house: our guest bedroom. Right now it’s basically a storage … Continue reading

The Happiest Day

This gallery contains 16 photos.

Four months ago was the happiest day of my life. I walked down a grassy aisle, out of the shadows and onto the sunlit altar. Max and I held hands and listened to our family friend talk about the importance … Continue reading

Disney World’s Hollywood Studios

This gallery contains 10 photos.

Day two into our Disney adventure, Max and I decided to hit up Hollywood Studios. The rides and special shows were more geared towards adults so we both had a lot more fun. Plus, fate must have favored us because … Continue reading

Occupational Diversity, Anyone?

You hear it all the time in investing: diversify, diversify, diversify. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines diversity as the quality or state of having many different forms, types, ideas, etc. Basically, diversity means don’t put all your eggs in one basket. The theory … Continue reading