Let’s See How Far We’ve Come

by Karen

Well, it’s almost October now. My self-imposed blogging/digital sabbatical was quite nice but I missed writing. A lot. In the meantime, I have streamlined my digital presence and honestly, I am enjoying my less-cluttered life. In other words, I cut the crap. I highly recommend it. DO IT!

The past year as been a whirlwind, filled with lots of change and I haven’t always handled it with grace. I try but being the imperfect gal I am, I fail on occasion to maintain my glass half full outlook. So I decided to take a trip down memory lane and chronicle the past year by examining it month by month. And you know what? We actually accomplished quite a bit and even managed to have a lot of fun. Sometimes it takes stepping away from the day-to-day happenings and looking at the bigger picture to fully make sense of everything.

So I thought I would share with you the monthly breakdown of the past year. Because nothing says “Look’s whose back!” like shoving pictures and accompanying commentary about my life down your throat. But you’re the one reading my blog so you sort of had it coming, don’t you think? So top off that wine glass, coffee mug, or both, and enjoy.

October began with Clay coming home for R&R and us celebrating Weston’s first birthday with a party attended by family. We vacationed on Ocracoke Island, in the Outer Banks and said goodbye to Clay as he went back to Afghanistan to finish the deployment. Weston and I ended the month with Halloween costumes – Weston as a Chick Magnet and me as Steve Jobs.

Weston and I went back to our deployment routine in November. We traveled up to Megan and Mike’s (sister and brother-in-law) house for Thanksgiving. My parents and my youngest sister, Julie, met at my house and then we caravanned up to Philadelphia…I even let Julie drive my car on I-95! Mike’s family joined us for Thanksgiving and it was nice having most of the family together – Scott and Kelly (my brother and his fiance) were still down in Georgia and Clay was still in Afghanistan. However, we were able to Skype (for 5 minutes…the joys of technology) with Clay and I had my first taste of deep-fried turkey.

I finished graduate school in December and Clay came home from a year-long deployment December 15th! We enjoyed time as a family and spent Christmas in Wilmington, North Carolina with Clay’s parents. We then drove down to Georgia to spend the New Year with my parents. We also found out that we were officially moving to Oklahoma come February.

Clay and I started the New Year with a flight (sans Weston) to Oklahoma so we could check out our new territory. We discovered just how many casinos are in Lawton and received our first taste of prairie-living. We also failed to find a rental house that met our specifications (not $2000/month and not in the ghetto). We spent January packing up our house in North Carolina, traveling up to Philadelphia to visit Megan and Mike, and then back down to Georgia to visit my parents and Aunt Sue and Uncle Mike. Weston graduated from Little Gym and we began the process of saying goodbye to our life in North Carolina. Oh, and I dyed my hair red.

The first week of February, we packed up the majority of our house and moved west to Oklahoma. We took our time driving,  stopping in Ashville, Nashville, Memphis, and Little Rock to take in the necessary touristy stops, like Graceland. We signed a short-term lease for an apartment and moved in – all while still searching for a rental home. At the end of the month, we flew back to North Carolina to attend the formal Homecoming ceremony for Clay’s unit (that’s him speaking in the picture) and for Clay and I to participate in a Yellow Ribbon weekend. Afterwards, Weston and I said goodbye to Clay as he boarded a plane to Oklahoma and we stayed behind in North Carolina to wrap things up.

Weston and I were solo for the month of March. We packed up the rest of the house and tied up all the loose ends of our North Carolina life. We spent a couple of weeks at my parents’ in Georgia, where all of my siblings and I threw a surprise 50th birthday party for my mom. Megan, Mike, and Clay all flew in and the rest of us drove in to accompany my mom over the hill. It was quite the party. At the end of the month, Weston and I picked up Clay in Birmingham so we could make the drive out to Oklahoma together. And we officially became Oklahoma residents, at least according to our driver’s licenses.
April began with us celebrating Clay’s 29th birthday at the Oklahoma City zoo. We spent time in the Wichita Wildlife Refuge and went to the Rattlesnake Festival in Apache. We joined our church and I learned that having long hair in the Oklahoma wind can be quite the hassle.

In May, we jumped on the bed, got our first taste of the hottest summer on record (we had 30 straight days of temperatures higher than 110 degrees), and finally moved into our rental house. Clay traveled a lot for work and I barely hung on as I fought a wretched kidney infection that almost had me hospitalized. We also survived our first tornado in Oklahoma.

We had our first visitors in June, as Clay’s sister and her family stopped by during their cross-country move. We experienced our first brush wildfire and some crazy powerful thunderstorms. I volunteered at Vacation Bible School at our church and turned down a job offer at Ft. Sill. We drove to my parents’ place in Georgia where we had some fun the sun and hung out with my Aunt Donna, Uncle Jerry, and family. Us girls attended a bridal shower for Kelly, my brother’s fiance, and the guys smoked a bunch of meat and watched football. During the last week of June, Clay flew back to Oklahoma for work.

July began with me picking up Clay at the airport and us having an overnight getaway in Clemson. We visited all of our favorite places and were even able to sneak into the empty football stadium. We celebrated July 4th by setting off fireworks and then said goodbye to my family as we made our way back to Oklahoma. We booked our trip to Alaska and counted down the days until we could escape the ridiculous heat. I spent the majority of the month decorating our rental house and turning it into a home.

We continued to endure the summer from hell in August. At one point, my iPhone stopped working due to extreme temperature (I was listening to music while working in the yard). I chopped off my hair (over 8 inches!) and went blonde again. The highlight of the month, of course, was our trip to Alaska. We had a blast with Jackie and couldn’t get over the majestic beauty of the state. We. want. to. go. back.

And finally, September began with us flying to North Carolina over Labor Day weekend so we could attend a wedding of a soldier in Clay’s previous unit. We stayed with Clay’s parents and were happy to be on the East Coast again. After our quick trip, we relished in the cooler Oklahoma temperatures and excitedly waited for fall.

Time will only tell what October 2011 and the following months will bring.

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I am thankful. I know I don’t always embody the sentiment, but I am thankful. The journey during the past year hasn’t always been easy and I haven’t handled every change with grace. But I have learned. I have laughed. I have loved. And I think that is what is most important, don’t you?

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