Greetings from Around the World

The past week has been a whirlwind.  I left my child for an extended period of time for the first time, I’ve been battling some serious jet-lag and I’m fighting a cold…all while trying to stay positive and upbeat.  As much as I’m truly enjoying myself, I can’t help but want to pull the covers over my head, go to sleep, wake up and have it be time to go home.  Here’s to hoping the next few weeks just fly right on by!

Leaving Madelyn, has by far been the hardest thing (emotionally) that I’ve ever done.  I cried the night before I left and I cried when I handed her over to my mom.  I know that she is being well taken care of, she’s just been such a big part of my life for over a year (if you count the time being pregnant) it’s hard to remember what life was like before.

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Instead of wallowing in my tears and being a Debbie Downer on this TDY, I’m taking this opportunity to focus on myself and do things that I couldn’t normally do at home.  Things like lay out in the sun and read a magazine (without the baby monitor right next to me), take extra long showers, spend hours at the gym, bust out my amazing “flip cup” skills from my college days, and NAPS!  I took one today and it was AMAZEFEST.

Hubs has been sending me videos every day of my sweet baby girl.  Those definitely help.  And FaceTime has been about an every day thing.  We’ve been able to talk to each other pretty much every day either through text or FaceTime. Today was the first time I was able to FaceTime home during Madelyn’s play time.  I saw her CRAWL for the very first time!!!  She got so excited when she saw my face on the screen and gave me a smile that I’ve never seen before.

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It’s nice to know that she hasn’t forgotten who her Mama is!

The location of this TDY couldn’t get any better, so I have that going for me.  That and the fact that my sister is here with me doing the military thing with me.  I’ll post some pictures on here when I get a chance.

My goal while I’m here is to focus on building my run miles, getting myself in good shape and gearing up for Marathon training-set to begin in June.  I hear Wisconsin’s been enjoying some summer-like temps the past few days.  Can’t wait to get back home to my family and to my garden!  Happy May!

Weekend Tidbits

Homeownership kept us pretty busy this weekend.  It was the first weekend we’ve been able to just futz around the house and get outside in the yard.  We spent a lot of time at Home Depot and World Market.

When we bought our house, we inherited a TON of garden space.

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I wasn’t joking.  When I first saw the space I was overwhelmed and immediately wanted to convert it back to a yard.  The only thing I’ve ever grown is a baby!  Then, during our second walk through I thought, “Well maybe we’ll take out the first three and keep the three beds behind the garage.”  After the previous owners accepted our offer, I met with the Mrs. and she informed me that the 100 heads of garlic were growing in one of the beds that I wanted to take out.

I finally got back there this week and saw the garlic starting to sprout.  I got really excited and started to plan out what else I’m going to plant back there.  I planted some carrots in the same bed as the garlic.  I’m not sure of how they’re going to come out: those seeds are tiny! And I thought of a better way to plant them after I kind of just spread them around.  The rest of the planting and gardening will resume after I get back home in the beginning of June.

Another project I wanted to get done before I left at the end of this month was the accent wall in our bedroom.

bedroom wall before

bedroom wall before

  I used a wall stencil from Cutting Edge Stencils to transform our wall into this:

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It was a really tedious job but I’m really happy with how it turned out.  The color is Special Gray from Sherwin Williams.  All the walls were painted with a matte paint and the accent wall was painted with a high gloss paint.  I used the matte paint to go over the high gloss paint.  I’m really glad I stuck with the same color.  Unless you’re a stenciling expert, if you’re going to do this, I would recommend sticking with similar colors.  There were a few little mistakes but it’s really hard to see them, which I’m very thankful for.

The very BEST part of my weekend came today when I was reunited with my sister.  She’s been deployed for two months and we’re so happy to have her home.  Madelyn has missed her auntie!

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When Melissa and I found out the date and time of when she was scheduled to come home we decided to not tell my mom, but rather surprise her at work.  Thankfully, everything fell into place and we were able to pull of an awesome surprise homecoming!

Welcome home to my sister and best friend!  We have some wine dates to catch up on :-)

GF Dining in the Middle East

Doesn’t exist.  (From what I experienced anyway)  Earlier this week, I heard that a woman who works in the office across the street from me is a driver and that she goes off base nearly every week.  I went over to her office and asked when she would be going off base sometime soon because I really wanted to go with her.  What an experience and culture shock. 

I’ve had the privilege to travel to many interesting places in my 26ish (almost 27) years.  I enjoy it because it gives me the opportunity to see how other cultures live and always makes me appreciate what we have in America a little bit more.  My first out of country experience was Mexico when I was around 4 or 5 years old and I can still remember the sight of wild pigs and dogs running wild in the streets.  We were taken to the “Old County,” not to Cancun to stay at a luxury resort.  Since that first eye opening trip to Mexico, I’ve traveled to the Caribbean, Honduras, England, France and Turkey.

None of these travels even come close to what I experienced tonight.  First off, we drove past an actual castle.  It has a princess and everything!  On our way off base, about a mile away, we drove past what looked like a gated compound.  It had tall brick walls and a huge gated entrance.  I asked the woman who was driving what it was and she replied back with, “That’s the princesses castle/summer home.  She lives there regularly and she’s 16″.  Wow!

Second thing I learned on our trip downtown: there are no 4 way intersections, only those crazy “roundabouts”.  I could never drive in this country.  I sat in the back and tried not to look at what was going on in front of me.  The driving here was worse than driving with my husband in Chicago.

Third thing: They have camels in the parking lot.  This is what we saw when we pulled into the parking lot of where we were trying to go.  We started to take pictures from outside the gated area, and then the handler of the camels told us we could come inside the gate and get pictures.

He then charged us $5 dollars for the pictures that we had taken. Definitely saw that one coming.
Another thing I learned in this country: The men to women ratio is about 100 to 1.  A group of American girls definitely stuck out like a sore thumb.  I’ve never been stared at so hard in my entire life.  This part made me very uncomfortable.  There was one point while we were driving and there were literally hundreds upon hundreds of men just walking down the street hanging out.  I said that Justin Beiber must be having a concert :-)
We finally got to the market area where we dined on some local cuisine.  I didn’t even bother to ask about gluten because our server barely spoke English.  We basically just pointed to the menu and he wrote down what we ordered.  One of the girls ordered hummus for an appetizer.  I had a feeling that it wasn’t going to come out with carrots or cucumbers and I was right.  Along with this heavenly looking hummus came this even more heavenly looking pita bread.  Major Fail.  I figure I’m only in this country once (fingers crossed) I might as well immerse myself in the culture.  One pita topped with the hummus later came my symptoms: stomachache, headache, and the lightheaded feeling.  It just amazes me how my body seems to have become more sensitive to gluten now that I’ve stopped eating it.  I get those symptoms every single time and always in that exact order whenever I ingest gluten.  It might not seem like a big deal to those who have never experienced it, but the dizziness is very unnerving.  After the hummus & pita came our meals.  I ended up with something that ended up looking like a stew but with lamb meat, lots of veggies and some sort of pastry crust that definitely was not described on the menu.  It was good.  Very flavorful, as they cook with lots of spices here.  I did my best just to eat the stew portion.  Tonight, the gluten won and it was 1/2 my own fault. 
After our dinner, we walked around the market for a bit (I, sleepily) and checked out all the goods that the locals had to offer.  Next on our list of things to do: Hookah!  Because you can’t travel here without doing it at least once!  They were in every single outdoor cafe/restaurant we passed.
I’ll be back in Chicago in just a few weeks! Unless something awesomely amazing happens to me while I’m here (like the dining facility offering special GF items) , my posts will be very scarce!

Eating Gluten Free While Deployed

Well, we made it safely to our final destination here overseas.  It’s extremely hot & windy.  There’s nothing like taking a shower & going outside only to get blown by dirt and dust.

Ugh! Cannot wait to get home…the things we take for granted!  I lucked out though by not having a roommate.  Although my room is extremely small, it’s nice to have the space to myself and not have to worry about someone else’s schedule.
 I tried to make the space as much of my own as possible.  I bought hot pink bed sheets & my fleece blanket from home.  Now that I’m married, I figured this was the perfect time to purchase hot pink bed sheets because that would never fly with my husband.

One of my biggest concerns about getting deployed right now was my diet.  Because I recently eliminated gluten from my diet completely, I was worried about what I was going to be able to eat here.  We’re in a country where the people serving our food don’t speak much English and there is no way I’m going to hold up the food line by asking how the food was prepared.  I’d have a lot of angry soldiers to deal with.  So I’ve been doing as best as I possibly can.  I have to admit that it’s very hard and I know there have been a few times already where I have made some wrong choices.  I can definitely see why someone who is diagnosed with Celiac disease would be disqualified from the military.

I’ve mainly been sticking with eggs and fruit for breakfast and chicken, rice, potatoes, and veggies for lunch and dinner.  Yesterday, I splurged and had a steak.  It actually was not bad.  My meals for the most part have been very bland but full of protein.  I miss my kitchen :-/  And my bed. And these guys…

I’ve been trying to remain in good spirits & keep positive.  I have a lot of time to workout, read, sleep & do some online research for some exciting things to come for when I get home.  Basically a ton of “me” time. 
P.S.- If anyone has any ideas of choosing better options for food while I’m here, I’m definitely open to suggestions!

Detour

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So far, this has turned out to be an okay deployment :-) We were on our way to the desert yesterday, when one of the plane engines went out and we had to land at an Air Force base in New Hampshire.  They promised we’d stop in England, they just didn’t say New England :-) {Just a little history about me: I’ve been in the Air National Guard for almost 9 years and yesterday we were on our way overseas for a month long deployment.} We were told we’d be here through out the weekend and I’m on a mission to get some of these guys I’m with to go to Boston with me for the day.  It’s about an hour outside of Portsmouth, NH.

Last night we ate at the Portsmouth Brewery.  It was very good!  I had the Brewery seasonal salad which came with mixed greens tossed with a lemon-tarragon vinaigrette with red onion, balsamic-grilled pears and pumpkin seeds.  I added grilled chicken to it and filled me up.  The guys (I’m the only girl on this deployment) all had their seasonal beers while I sipped on a local cider.  It was good but not like any other hard cider I’ve tasted.  It tasted like a very dry white wine, so it paired well with the salad.


This morning, a co-worker and I ventured all around the downtown area of Portsmouth.  It’s a very cute town and I am in love with the New England architecture.  While we were out and about, we stumbled upon this restaurant called The Friendly Toast.  Thankfully, they had the menu outside so I could look to see if it was a place that was somewhat “gluten friendly”.  As soon as I saw “All pancakes can be made gluten free” I was sold.  This place was very random.  It was a diner/bar and they had a pretty big menu.  I thought I had wanted gluten free pancakes until I saw their omelet selections so I rolled with New Hampshire’s Finest (local goast cheese, asparagus, scallions, & bacon).  I was all set to take a picture, but I devoured it once it got to the table.  It was that good.  I would definitely go back there to try their gluten free pancakes! 

Old board games on the wall (Clue, Candy Land, etc.)
complete randomness all over the walls
The women’s toilet seat contained candy.  M&Ms, gummy worms, lifesavers.  The most bizarre toilet seat I’ve ever seen.

Tonight, we’re on a mission for a lobster tail and hopefully Boston on Saturday.  There’s only so much of downtown Portsmouth to explore.