A time to celebrate: a soldier's homecoming

All right, so I've got some time to myself because Mr decided to hang with the boys tonight. Oh and it's also the final day of 2011 so I figured I'd better post this before a new year rolls in. The long awaited deployment homecoming post. I'm glad to be finished with my deployment woes posts..as those can be wearing sometimes.  I don't know that I won't ever post on this past year again because it was a year in my life that impacted me..to say the least.  But, I can promise to share new adventures now that one have become two again.

It's hard to find the right place to start with this post because so much can be said. Do I reminisce over the things I've learned and grown through..everything building up to this point? Do I cut straight to the pictures and short change the stories behind them? I'm not sure, so I'll just go with the flow and see where my typing fingers take me.

Sometimes it's weird sharing these personal parts of my life..knowing tens and possibly hundreds of people glance over these words. I often wonder if I share too much or not enough? I'm not sure I'll ever come to a complete answer on that so for now I'll continue to share.

There's few things that happen in life that are cause for a celebration. Engagements..weddings..pregnancy..buying a house..learning to ride a bike, just to name a few. But one I'd never given much consideration to until the last two years was the return of a soldier. If there's one thing I've learned through out living this military lifestyle, it's that we live among brave men and women. We don't always notice, but they're always there..or sometimes technically not there, but fighting for our right to live in this awesome place. They don't ask for recognition or even a fair amount of pay. Sometimes it's men or women who aren't sure what to do with their life so they sign a paper, willing to leave all that's familiar to them and breath red white and blue. Other times it's a son or daughter whose father, grandfather and great grandfather served years before them..and it's only right that they follow suit. Whoever they are and for whatever reason they signed that paper, I am grateful. I'm grateful to families who have sacrificed time away from their loved ones. Mothers and fathers who raised their children alone for months and years at a time. I'm completely floored when I think about those families who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. Could you even imagine? Thankful..grateful..forever in debt..to all of those willing to fight for me.

I always expected the celebration of a wedding or a someday pregnancy, but never in my youth did I imagine the joy I'd experience welcoming home a soldier, my soldier. The night before he came home, I remember sitting in bed thinking..this is it..tomorrow starts the rest of my forever. I meant that quite literally too..not in the cliche fairytale like way. Tomorrow starts the rest of my forever..it was a feeling similar to the night before my wedding.

Okay so let's break up these black and white letters with some spurts of color...yes? I slept beautifully the night before Mr came home. Weird, right? Not really because it was the first night I could truly sleep in peace, knowing he was coming home to me for good. It's like God just sent this calm over me and I knew all would be right in the morning.

We drove there and arrived about an hour and 15 minutes early because we didn't want to miss ANYTHING. Oh and I sure saw it all, I took in every aspect of that scene before me.

I should also mention our amazing photographer Lauren, she did all of these pictures for us..drove to the airport and captured memories that I am forever grateful to her for. These images are all copyrighted, so please be kind and don't take'm!! :)

Families so anxious to welcome home their loved ones. Little kids with signs and families gathering around for pictures. Grandma, mom and best friend were by my side throughout the whole day and it was perfection.

freedom riders lined the runway on either side to greet our boys as they stepped off the plane..absolutely amazing

my niece and nephew...okay my sis in law ;) made a sign for their uncle to see...and were holding it so proudly

We all chatted and waited for the planes to land and before we knew it the first plane landed and turned the corner...making it's way to the lined rows of freedom riders and anxiously waiting families.

Talk about a powerful entrance. The unit flew home commercial for the last stretch so it completely warmed my heart to see the pilots pop a flag out the window as they straightened out in front of the crowds. Such a simple gesture to show their support of our loved ones on board, who they safely carried home.

As the door opened we watched as buzzed head after buzzed head walked out of the door...each one looking like Mr. I couldn't help but smile as every butterfly in my stomach fully stretched their wings and fluttered like mad.

Hey there's my man!

We were told to "stay behind the line" and when I saw another lady break the rule..fully leaping on her lover in the middle of their runway I looked at the man in charge and ran right past him.

Perfect moment with my perfect mister. After this moment we were bombarded with camera crews asking for interviews and newspaper journalists hurling questions at us. But in that moment, little tears made their way out and I felt at peace for the first time in a year.

I didn't really want to let him go, and I didn't for a while. I had to touch him, just remembering what he felt like. Finding the freckle on his ring finger that isn't quite covered by his ring. Tucking my thumb under his while we hold hands, because that's where it fits perfectly. Giving the gentle kisses that mean I love you.

So there you have it, the homecoming of my Mr. The year didn't go by fast while it happened, but looking back, I'm so proud of myself and Mr for all the things we overcame. We grew...a lot. You're kind of forced to under the circumstances. But, Jesus..my wonderful Savior never left me. He never forgot about me and only helped me grow. My hope was in Jesus, that He would bring all that I knew to be right in the world, back to me. He would never leave me, or forsake me. He would carry me through all of the sad and lonely nights. It was my Father in Heaven that brought my love safely home to me.

Merry Christmas!

Stopping in to say Merry Christmas from the Mr and Mrs :)

We've had nonstop Christmas festivities the last few days and the party continues until tomorrow.  Our Christmas has been filled with lots of baking..music..giving..family and thankfulness to our Savior. I hope you all enjoyed time with family, friends or loved ones on our Saviors birthday :) I'll be back, posting regular updates on our official newlywed life.. but for now I'm thoroughly embracing this Christmas with Mr!

Luke 2:11

 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour,
which is Christ the Lord.

Christmas Lights

Classes are over (hurray!), the air is crisp and cool, our house smells like pine trees and gingerbread and Christmas lights are lining the streets! It's the most wonderful time of the year and it's only going to get better this week.  We started off the week with a trip to look at Christmas lights with my best friend and her hubby, and it was just as amazing as we'd hoped.  The boys were thrilled (not) to look at lights and didn't complain once. Sike! They did. But I think they ended up enjoying themselves in the end. I went a little bokeh crazy, but it was so hard not to when it looked this beautiful.

Then we took turns in front of the patriotic house since both our hubbies are military studs.  Best friend and her hubby took their turn and I'm pretty much in love with the turn out.

So apparently not everyone knows how to work a DSLR camera...what? I know, news to me too. But it was mine and Mr's turn to stand in front of the house for our "support our troops" picture.  I thought we could teach best friend's husband to take a picture real quick.  But after about 9 failed attempts and 15 minutes of waiting for crowds to pass, running back and forth to change the focus..raise and lower ISO and reposition ourselves, we gave up :) Best friend's husband and Mr did an excellent job at not complaining throughout the process and now we have a great memory of crazy photo taking at the patriotic house and I'm so very thankful for it!

I'm almost certain I would be happy if it were Christmas time year round. Who wouldn't love to stare at magical lights all the time?

I can't wait until we have little ones to take with us down Christmas adorned streets. It will be so magical for them. There was Christmas music playing, hot cocoa to drink and people swarming the streets.  Everyone complains about Christmas music being played in early November, but I secretly adore it.  Nothing beats this time of the year.  I remember feeling so happy as a little girl, as soon as Christmas tree lots popped up around town.  Then houses lined with colored bulbs and bushes covered in white lights. Christmas trees in windows facing the street, so passerby could catch a glimpse of sparkling beauty. My heart feels full and ready to embrace this season of love and remembrance of our Savior's birth. 

Take two with best friend's husband as our photographer resulted in our faces in focus and some pretty lights in the background. Mission accomplished!

We had such a fun double date and hope this becomes a tradition!  The rest of the week holds more Christmas light looking, present wrapping, eggnog drinking, Christmas Eve services and lots of time with family. I truly adore it all.

With all the lights..treats..parties..presents and music it's easy to lose sight of where our focus should be. So let's not forget to thank and praise our Lord and Savior for the blessings He has brought so we can enjoy this amazing time of year <3

Apartment Wonderland

I've thoroughly enjoyed transforming our little place into a winter wonderland this year :) I basically sit and stare at everything when it's lit up at night.  The magical-ness that comes with glistening lights and sparkled ornaments makes my heart warm.  To top it all off, Mr and I get to share the entire season together! I'm not sure if there's anything better.  Here's our apartment wonderland...

These mason jars are quite possibly my favorite DIY thus far. Mod podge, glitter and a paint brush. Easy and purty.

Christmas tree cones are like an equal tie with sparkle mason jars in the DIY category. FUN to make and pretty inexpensive too. Tutorial to follow :)

Dollar tree vases holding my left over dollar tree ornaments!

and some yummy bokeh of our outdoor lights

Christmas bells are almost ringing!

It's almost time for me to be in full Christmas spirits. T-minus 7 days until the semester is over! I can almost taste the freedom. In the meantime, I'm thoroughly enjoying the amount of holiday decor lighting up our apartment :)