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My Scrappy Quilt (& Instructions)

Dscf1687Well, here it is, my millionth crafty, domestic project since J.’s deployment.  A friend is about to have a baby girl, so I bought a bunch of fabric and made this fluffy quilt – perfect as a floor throw when Baby starts to crawl. I’ve included my instructions for making a simpler version here: Download scrap_quilt_instructions.pdf.  This is a simple quilt – no binding or creating perfect squares (in other words, you can fudge on the seam allowances a little).  This might not pass as a "traditional" quilt.  But I have never had the talent/skill/patience for difficult crafts, so the only projects you will see here are pretty but simple, and look like they could be difficult.

My New Year’s Resolution – Buns of Steel

One way to pass the longest year ever is with a specific goal.  Mine is to finally get fit and gain some muscle.  Specifically, I’d like to look like this lady (hey, one can dream).  Anyway, I bought Shape Shapeboutique_1882_1931255Magazine’s A Woman’s Guide to Weight Training (which came with a handy training log), read the intro thoroughly and put together a routine for myself.  I’ve joined the YMCA (enrolled Toddler E. in their nursery service at a reasonable $2/hour). I’ll be doing a routine based on the "beginner workout" suggested in the book, then move up every 6 weeks.  My workout (3x/week) consists of 30 minutes of cardio (I hate machines so I’ve chosen solo racquetball for now), and an hour of full body weight training (chest, shoulders, back, abs, arms, glutes/legs). 

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Just a Tote Bag?

Totejan06Since I’ve just started blogging, it wouldn’t be obvious but I have almost literally been crafting away the anxiety over my husband, J.’s, deployment.  I stay pretty busy, but I feel like the time spent without him has gone so s-l-o-w-l-y.  In an attempt to count down the time a little more quickly and keep my anxiety at bay, I find myself at the fabric store FREQUENTLY.  It’s my alternative to Xanax.  His last assignment in Iraq started before the beginning of the war, as a platoon leader for a chemical platoon attached to the 3rd Infantry Division (the Army division that "invaded" Iraq).  I didn’t hear from him or from our rear detachment for weeks at a time and it was agonizing.  I developed an anxiety disorder that was debilitating and embarrassing at times.  I basically didn’t stop crying until he came home.  Thankfully, the deployment was brief by Army standards, and he was home shortly after the official war was declared over.  We moved on with our lives as a married couple again.  It was a blissful pause in what has become a rather hectic period in the Army.  And now he’s deployed.  Again.  His third in our 4 1/2 years of marriage – not really so unusual for an Army family these days.

I can’t afford to lose myself in anxiety again.  And so I sew.  And clean, and organize, and join playgroups, and teach my toddler, E., how to shop for shoes.

This week I made a tote bag.  Yeah, it’s just a tote bag.  But it bought me a couple days of sanity.  And I’m a couple days closer to seeing my husband again.

Den -

Cathryn - I love your blog and I feel your pain. My fiance is a marine and we are always apart! I am currently a photo student working on my senior thesis. I will be focusing on what military girlfiends, fiances, and wives go though when our man is gone. I want to say this useing images. I love your pictues, and the way you see things. Your main picture is amazing and I want to use it can you email me back. I hope to hear from you soon.

The Black & Decker Husband-To-Go

Boy, how quickly I forget how many things a husband is handy for.  Tired of parking my car outside and one muddy lawn away from the house, I decided to move J.’s truck out of the garage and – surprise – it was dead.  Hm.  Will call handy looking neighbor to help. Ugh, that’s so…so…NOT me.  Then I remembered this big orange thing my father in-law bought us before J. left.  The Black & Decker Electromate 400 (what I now call The Black & Decker ZHusband-To-Go) – inflates tires, charges batteries, and acts as a power outlet.  Anyway, I took it out of the box, read the directions, held my breath as I turned the key (hoping nothing would explode), and to my surprise – it started right up! 

But…I should have remembered to keep the truck running a while…


Meagan - Hey I need one of those! My deployed husband’s truck is dead in the driveway! He told me to drive it around once in a while. I guess 3 months is too long of a “while”.

Tonight I Cried.

The journal entry that kicked off my longest year:

13 Oct 05.  Tonight I cried. My husband is leaving for what I consider a pretty dangerous mission in Iraq.  He leaves tomorrow.  And I’m sick with worry.  As I made his favorite meal, he recorded his reading sessions and favorite songs with our baby girl, E., who just turned one last week.  I cried silently in the kitchen. After he rocked her to bed, we spent another half hour making video tapes of him reading more stories to her. Now he’s in the garage finishing his packing and I’m trying to sport a brave face…because I know he worries about me as much as I do about him.

Jeannette - I cannot tell you how much I can relate to your longest year. My husband deployed to Iraq in March 2003, one week before our son’s first birthday and 6 months before our daughter was born.
The way my son missed his daddy, still can bring me to tears. My daughter was so eager for the attention from ANY man at 4 months old it was almost (if not so sad) comical.
Now, it is crazy as we are on another deployment to Iraq. Now my children are 5 and 3. I am not sure what was harder. I suspect this separation harder on him.
I too sat and cried while my husband put our son to bed. We held each other and I cried that evening. At 4 am he got up to leave us, as he left I cried so hard I thought I was going to vomit. I can imagine how hard I would have cried if he died.
The hardest thing I have ever done in my life was watch my husband walk away to go serve in Iraq. Knowing that he may not be able to walk back. Controlling myself from running and grabbing his legs like and child, begging him not to go. Knowing he has to go and I have to allow him the strength of seeing me let him, but his knowing I do not want too.
Face it, this is quite nearly the worst part of being in the military. Moving all over and not seeing family is easy compared to this!
Thanks for reminding me that I am not alone!

Melanie Taylor - I just stumbled onto your blog and I loved it immediately. I am an Air Force wife and have been through a couple delpoyments as well. We have no kids yet so that makes it easier but nothing ever makes it easy. I love meeting women who understand what each other go through and what you do with your sewing nights is AWESOME! We are currently stationed in Korea and I had to come because I knew I couldn’t go without him one more time if I could help it. Keep up the good work, your crafts a great and your spirit is beautiful!

Amanda Allen - I just found your blog and you have made me cry. I am an Air Force wife trying to make it through his first deployment “over there” as I have been calling it. He has been gone almost two weeks and I thought it would get a little easier as the days go by, but it hasn’t. Thank you for sharing your life with all of us. May God bless you and I will keep you all in my prayers always.

√•slaug - You made me cry too. Checking the date, I see I’m crying three years later. You’re so brave all of you. And you are very kind to tell, it’s a thing I never think about, because I don’t know anyone who have experienced it (except my great grandmother whos husband didn’t come back in the 1940’s). I’m so glad for stopping by. All my love to you. God bless you!

patty ferguson - God bless you & your family. We live next to Ft Sill, Ok. We see a lot of this & it never gets easy. You are in my prayers & thank you for what you both do.

Lauren Kowalick - Me and my 3 month old son are about to say goodbye to my husband. He leaves for Afghanistan in the next few weeks. I dont know how I am going to explain to my son on his first birthday why his daddy isnt here. I hate that his first swim in the pool will be with his grandpa or uncle instead of his father. I dont want to take him to the “mommy and me” day at the zoo. And I hate that I am scrapbooking an album of just the two of them, so I can show him how much his daddy loves him in the chance that his daddy never comes back.

The American Homemaker - My husband is in the military too. Although we don’t live together now (he’s in Nevada and I’m in Utah) I know it’s going to be even harder during his deployment next year.

Nana in Texas - I stumbled on this site looking for a crochet beanie pattern for my granddaughters (you had the perfect one by the way). I have watched one of my daughter’s best friends deal with her husband being deployed and also one of my best friends dealing with a son being deployed. As part of the nation your loved ones protect, please allow me to say how grateful I am that I live in a country with men like your husband. And how grateful I am to the families like yourself who put themselves through hell so my grandchildren can be save. You are in my prayers. Nothing can begin to repay the sacrifice our armed forces make for us, nothing.

Nancy Grant - God bless you Crystal. This is my first time at your blog. Thank you for sharing your heart, family, faith, and creations.
You have made my day and I am inspired.

Wendy - I stumbled into your blog today when I found your swaddling cloth pattern, then something caught my eye… I didn’t know you where a Army wife until I seen, My longest year: Tonight I cried and I knew in my heart you, like me are a Military wife. This post touched my heart as I remembered my longest year – the tears, reaching out in the darkness and touching the side of the bed left empty, not knowing where he was the list is endless.. Yes this is an older post on your blog, but I just wanted to say Bless you and yours…

Amanda Brown - God Bless all of you and your families of our men who serve in the military. What wonderful brave men to serve and protect our country putting their lives on the line for Americans whom they have never even met. Loving and providing for their families back home. And , what wonderful strong women who wait for their safe returns. God Bless You All , You Are All America’s Angels.