Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Itch...

Who would've thought that all the drama, confusion, and stress of buying your first home would actually be a good thing? Right now, I am so thankful for the distraction it provides.

There is a monster stalking us. It's hiding in the shadows. Creeping behind me, ducking out of the way when I turn around to look. Freezing so still if we manage to look right at it that it blends in and can't be seen.

One year ago at this time, he was in Afghanistan. (Ok, exactly one year ago, he was home on leave, and about to see, and propose to, me.) Two years ago at this time, he was headed toward Fort McCoy for pre-deployment training. Three years ago at this time, he was in Afghanistan, a few months from what would've been the end of his tour, and only a couple weeks from being medvac'ed out of country. Four years ago at this time, we were gearing up, getting ready for his first trip to McCoy, his first deployment, the start of a wild journey.

This post is not about my usual Reserve vs. Active Duty issues. Forget that. Just know that, even though it says "Reserves" in my blog description, my husband's tours came at the pace of Active Duty tours. Know that when they said "go", he went, because that was his job. That's what he volunteered to do. And know that when he came home, he was home for exactly a year when they said "go" again.

In theory, we are done. We are IRR, and POTUS tells us all the time how he's winding down the war in Afghanistan. In theory, they will not tell my soldier "go" again.  But still, I wait.

I wait because I've been trained to wait. I wait because I've learned that this is the point where the cycle repeats itself. I wait because he is an experienced NCO and units will have holes to fill. I wait because, even though Iraq is over, and most of America thinks that means all war is done and they can completely forget about it yet again, still they go.

That monster is stalking us. We've mentioned his presence, but assured ourselves he won't get us. But he's there. I see how the monster effects us, whether we notice or not, whether we acknowledge or not, whether we think things are connected or not. The SGT has acknowledged that parts of him feel like it's time to go back. Part of him wants to be back there. Part of him thinks it's time to ramp up and train again. I see him watch war movies more than usual. He acknowledged how hard it is, how disconcerting it is that he does not have his rifle everywhere he goes.

I feel it creeping in. I feel an urge to push him away on Valentine's Day. I feel a peace that he will be at training that Tuesday instead of with me. I feel myself prepping to be alone, not just on weekends, but always. I feel that I am retreating into myself because I am all I can rely on, and it's easier than stressing him.

I wait because I feel that monster lurking behind me. Because even though all logic tells me we are done, I don't know when I can ever be sure. Because even with the lights on, there just aren't enough lights right now to convince me that there is no monster under my bed.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Paleo Scallops and Bacon...

So tonight I had no idea what to cook. But I had scallops, and it was cook or freeze time. I also had bacon, of course. I rummaged around a bit and stumbled upon a dish...

1/2 lb diver scallops (smaller size)
2 slices bacon cut into bite-size pieces
1/4 C. red onion, finely sliced
1/8 C. mushrooms, diced
1/2 C. yellow squash, sliced then quarted
Olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper

Pour approximately 1 Tbsp olive oil in your saucepan. Add garlic (approx. 1 clove), a few shakes of salt and pepper and heat. Once pan is hot, add scallops.  Cook until they begin to take a golden color.  Remove scallops and set aside.

Add bacon to pan. Cook until nearly done. Add scallops and veggies. Sautee together until onions and squash are tender.  Serve.

(This amount is essentially 1 serving)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Paleo One-Dish: Shrimp, Broccoli, Red Pepper

So, with the husband gone, I'm a master of cooking for one. Or one plus leftovers!  And, because cooking for one means I do the cooking and the cleanup, I love anything that involves only 1 pot.  So, as I continue this year to eat Paleo (ish) and clean, I'll continue to share my adventures.  I believe this one is actually Paleo..

2 Tbsp. Coconut Oil
10 medium shrimp, raw (make sure they're thawed and remove the tail, etc.)
1/2 medium yellow onion
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 broccoli crown
Garlic (powder is fine if you don't have fresh)
Red Pepper Flakes

Dice your veggies into bite-sized pieces. Melt 1 Tbsp Coconut Oil in your saucepan over medium heat. Throw in the shrimp and garlic to taste (approx. 1/8-1/4 tsp.) and saute until pink and almost done. Add remaining Coconut Oil (make sure you have enough to coat the veggies, add more if needed) and veggies along with your desired amount of red pepper flakes. Saute until the broccoli is cooked, but still firm.  Enjoy!

Jacksonville Weekend...

I told you how I was contacted by Colts TE Jacob Tamme and offered a wonderful weekend in Jacksonville, FL, plus Colts tickets to thank me the hubs for his military service. So I bet you want to know how the weekend went, right?    First, I have to thank Jacob, and Tammy (@TammyLuvsColts on twitter) for the incredible gift. Second, it was AMAZING!

The only downside to the trip was the 5 a.m. wake up in order to get to the airport in time. But hey, I've done much worse! Our flights were smooth and actually landed early. Easy travels! We got to the hotel, in an adorable, new development area of Jacksonville. It was situated right on a lake, and done in adorable blues and greens. If you get a chance to stay at a Hotel Indigo, do it! We had a suite, which was wonderful when it was time to get ready for dinner!

We checked in, then headed out for lunch, and then drove to the Jacksonville Beach area. The water was chilly, but we walked in the waves and just enjoyed the fresh ocean air. And we saw 4 dolphins playing and hunting in the surf!

After the beach, we headed back to watch the first half of the IU-OSU game (go IU!) and get ready for dinner. We had a wonderful dinner at III Forks; you can never go wrong with steak, seafood and a bottle of wine!

I won't lie, we barely made it to midnight...  but we made it! Happy 2012!!!

We started the year off right! As we sat to have breakfast, I got a message from Jacob inviting us to meet him after the game! So we finished up and headed to EverBank Field. Jaguars fans were pretty friendly. People teased us a bit before the game, but it was all in good fun. We even ran into one security member who told us he was secretly cheering for the Colts!  The stadium has a great Bud Light Party Zone above the south end zone.  

We grabbed a sandwich for the hubs and then headed to our seats to watch warm ups. The only downside is we were on the wrong side of the field... the Jaguars were warming up closest to us!  But I still love being there.  I will say it's more fun at Lucas Oil Stadium, at least there they play "In The Air Tonight"!  

I was a little bummed that they use the tiny flags. Their mascot, Jackson-de-ville did fast rope in from a light tower above the field, which was cool.... and also a sign of things to come. One downside to Jacksonville? It's a bit like a circus side show! The mascot is doing so much random stuff, driving on the opposite end of the field with a tiny motorcycle, streaking, etc. that it distracts you from the game. At one point, he was bouncing around, and our whole row missed an entire down because he had distracted us!

We enjoyed the game, and got some serious sun. Sadly, as you know, the Colts lost. Forget that 'suck for Luck' stuff, I'm a true fan, I wanted the W as much as the players!

After the game, we headed down to the buses. I asked several security guards where we should go, until I was sure I was in the right area. I was still nervous, because we were outside the fence, and I just didn't know if it would work out.   I shouldn't have worried!  Jacob was about the fourth player out. He immediately pulled 4 people in (who I later learned were his family), then I saw him reach into his pocket to check his phone. I yelled out "Jacob!" He immediately looked up.. "Stacey?"  I grabbed the husband's hand, and security parted the fence and let us through.  Ok, mind blown.

Jacob Tamme is the nicest guy. Period. He immediately greeted us with a hug for me, handshake for the husband and asked us if everything went OK for our weekend. He introduced us to his aunt and uncle, cousin and cousin-in-law, and we hung out chatting.  

I do not want to take away from this moment at all, because we were Jacob's guests, and he is an awesome, awesome person. But of course, I realize I'm hanging out within a few feet of Robert Mathis, Dwight Freeney, etc..  and then who should walk right next to me?  Reggie Wayne!  I asked Jacob if it's rude to ask for autographs or pictures. He said no, but because it's the family area, the guys might not.  Then he called over and asked Reggie if he'd take a picture with us! I got a quick autograph, and told Reggie "You know you're my favorite." (In hindsight, I almost felt like a dork, but Reggie smiled and laughed).

At about the same time, Dallas Clark had come over, and Jacob asked him to jump in the picture.

Dallas is also incredibly nice. When Jacob explained that the husband had served two tours of Afghanistan, Dallas stopped to chat with us for a while and thank him for his service. Then he came straight over and hugged me and thanked me too! He chatted for a while, and left quite the impression. Great guy!

And then? Icing on the cake. Peyton Manning was around. I snagged a quick auto on my ticket, then Jacob got his attention. "Hey Peyton, would you take a picture with this guy? He's spent two years in Afghanistan." Peyton thanked him and posed with us!  And teased Jacob about his camera skills...

Overall, a dream weekend!   Of course the game experience was the icing on the cake, but just the chance to get away, have a nice dinner, enjoy a warmer climate was so amazing for us. We had a great time relaxing and reconnecting.

Despite my rants here, in our house, we believe we're just doing our job. We don't demand special attention, and half the time the husband won't even take a military discount. To get thank yous like this from Tammy and Jacob just blows us away. I truly can't thank them enough.  And to hear a thank you from guys often called heroes, directed to my hero, and even to me, is really, really cool.  So to Tammy and to Jacob Tamme and to Reggie, Dallas and Peyton, thank you.