Monday, March 31, 2008


So me and 2 amazing people ventured off to Gatlinburg for the weekend. I needed to get away and the fact that it was my birthday weekend gave me a fabulous excuse. For once in my life, I really didn't let money get in the way of my fun. If you know me, you know that that in itself is a HUGE feat. We got in at like 2 in the morning, grabbed our key from the drop box, and took the "scenic route" through the mountain to the complete opposite side. Okay so the scenic route probably was not the best idea being that the fog that night was so intense that we couldn't see ANYTHING. Some patches were fine and then some were horrible. We made it, slowly but surely, through the mountain. When we got close to the chalet and couldn't see the road signs to see where we had to turn, Stacie started to freak out. I mean FREAK out! To the point where she said she would NEVER go on a trip with me again. Of course, she didn't REALLY mean that, she had just seen one too many scary movies about people in the mountains. It was ridiculous.

Eventually, we found our chalet and lugged all of our stuff inside. We walked around, picked our rooms and walked out on the porch to check out the hot tub. It was warm and bubbly and looked amazing so we changed and hopped in. I don't think we went to bed until 4 or so in the morning... Good times.

The next day we woke up late, well some of us, and headed out in Kristi's car. We tried to find a bank so that she could pay a bill, but had no luck. So we went to the Apple Barn and had breakfast at their restaurant. Yum yum. The meal started out with homemade apple fritters with apple butter and apple julep, orange juice, lemon, and apple juice. Then we each had some form of chicken. If you like comfort food or southern food, you'll love this country restaurant!

After that we stopped at several of the shops "off the beaten path." We saw some pretty cool stuff, but the most exciting was a magic shop. The guy was CRAZY, and we were all baffled by the different tricks...well some of them... Some were obvious... Turns out he does magic at places around the area, which is pretty cool. I think the best part was watching Kristi try to make a T out of some shapes and Stacie trying to figure out how he could add the numbers in his head more quickly than she could with a calculator, large numbers of course...

We then headed off to downtown Gatlinburg, parked, and walked around. We went to Ripley's Believe it or Not, walked around some more, and went to one of those mirror maze things... It was sooo much fun! We took pictures and did the maze like 4 times, back and forth dancing our way around. Oh yeah... There's also this upside down building that we checked out and took pictures of...

After Ripley's we went to a fabulous (my new word that I use quite frequently) restaurant called the Peddler. Definitely the best Prime Rib I've had in my life! Mmmm. I highly recommend it. After some more shopping, Kristi had to leave so that she could babysit in the morning... We tried to convince her to stay but it didn't work. :( That night, Stacie and I got in the hot tub and had some wine. Then we decided that we wanted mixed drinks and so we threw some clothes over our suits and tried to find a liquor store... It was too late so we ran to a gas station, grabbed some snacks and stuff and headed on our way. Stacie had been talking about one of the random rides in Pigeon Forge earlier that day and so I said we should ride it. By this point it's 10 or 11 at night. Yep... It was a blast...

Went back, jumped back in the hot tub, then started watching "French Kiss". Within 30 minutes, we fell asleep. Eventually went to bed... Got up around 9 a.m., cleaned up, checked out, had breakfast, went shopping, went to the Ripley's haunted house, shopped some more, rode the sky lift, took pictures, and then headed home.

It was an eventful and amazing weekend. I really and truly enjoyed every moment of it, and I got to know some great people better! It was drama free, guilt free, and oh so fun!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Military Wife Life

***Important note - This is in no way intended to be construed as complaining nor is it intended to reflect negatively on people who have not been through a deployment. I love my husband and I am honored to go through this with him. I am glad that it is I going through this and not my friends and family who have not had to.

Being a military wife is pretty amusing at times. The way different people perceive it and think it must be is very interesting. Most of the time I sit and let people tell me what they think it "means to be the wife of a soldier". Sometimes they get something right, but it is evident that they don't know what it is truly like.

What people tend to think and say...
* "Wow, you've been married a year and a half and have only spent 4 months with him?"
* Person 1: "You (Person 2) have been married a year less than Danae and you've spent more time with your wife than she has with her husband."
Person 2: "Yeah, that's true."
* "That must be hard."
* "How do you do it?"
* After a while, it must get easier.
* Well, maybe if you tried this. Or you should do that. If you did this, you'd be able to cope better,...

How it is...
You sit up at night wondering where your husband is and if he is alive.
You wonder when he will be able to call or email you next.
You battle with the fact that the most incredible thing in your life is not there to deal with life... to go through it with you.
It is a daily struggle and battle.
You wish you could have those moments or time back. (The ones he missed)
You dread holidays not just because he won't be here, but because that is when action often occurs.
You miss the same holiday with him two or three years in a row.
You lose "friends" because you place your focus elsewhere or because of where you are and what you're going through is so different from what they know and understand.
You change many of your habits. (I have become more organized and slightly anal about organization.)
Your mood fluctuates constantly.
You become depressed.
You become stressed.
You have insomnia at times.
You get exhausted with no real explanation.
You don't ever turn on the news and request people to change the channel when its on.
You avoid war movies and war talk at all costs.

Okay so I could really go on a long time here, but my goal is not to depress you. Being an Army/Military Wife is a full time job. Many of those wives are doing everything their husband would normally do, on top of taking care of the kids, cleaning, working a job to make ends meet... I just want you to realize that the pain and difficulties do not go away or become easier to deal with. It is a DAILY realization, a daily struggle. Some days are good and some are bad. It's just how it is...

My challenge to you.

If you know a military wife, do something kind for them. I get teary eyed when people I don't know ask me how I'm doing. That happened randomly several times right after Ben left. That meant more to me than anything. Hugs, prayers, and genuinely caring...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Sunday

Today was a wonderful day of celebrating and spending time with some of the most amazing people I know.

I've been sitting on my couch pondering every thought that enters my mind when I realized that somehow I managed to make it through a holiday without being completely depressed, without Ben. I mean of course I thought about him, but it didn't consume me. I have spent 2 Easters, a Christmas, a Thanksgiving, and our one year anniversary away from him. And on Tuesday I will have spent 2 birthdays without him. Yeah, that all adds up to 12 1/2 months, 54 weeks, or 380 days. Wow! That is a long time! When he left I wondered how on earth I would make it through. In fact, the first 8 months were horrible. I seriously thought I was going to go insane, literally. I mean, at least if I went off the deep end, he'd be able to come home. Sad, I know. But knowing that your spouse is half-way around the world in a major battle is pretty intense, scary, confusing,...

I can't explain it. I couldn't even begin to try. The truth is that unless you have been through a deployment in a particular situation, you really don't have any idea what its like. That has been difficult, because its hard to find people who can relate or support me. I have made a few friends, lost a few, but more than anything I've gained knowledge and understanding that I didn't have before. I have witnessed miracle after miracle in my life and am in awe. My husband is safe, my puppy who was terminally ill is alive and healthy, a surgery that almost everyone gets denied is available to me with a surgeon I am comfortable with and confident in,... I have SO many things to be thankful for. Each one of those miracles were a huge struggle for a while and have stories behind them, but the answers came. God is so faithful. He can and does make the impossible possible. (How anyone can make it through a deployment without him, I have no idea.)

So my challenge to you... Think about what seems impossible in your life, whether big or small. (An exam, a job, an interview, an argument,...) Whatever it is, let God have it and see what he does. Unfortunately it took me 8 months before surrendering the deployment, several before surrendering the surgery, and a few before surrendering my puppy. But I found out as soon as I did, as soon as I let go, God took over and created miracles. He can and wants to do the same for you. Let him!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Music and Passion

First off, let me start out by saying I am most passionate about God, then my wonderful husband. But I can not help the passion that has been ingrained in me since birth, music. It really started the first time I sang in front of people at the age of 3. No, no... Not just my family, but a few hundred people. This passion didn't die out. In fact, I can not remember a day I have gone without singing or a day I haven't listened to music. It's me, it's who I am. In some strange way, music defines me. I get so excited and worked up when I hear great music. I am filled with this overwhelming, unspeakable joy when I am able to share my heart through music. Music is my air. Without it, I could not breathe, and I would suffocate. When I need to vent or rejoice or scream, I sing and somehow that relieves every emotion I have or causes it to well up inside of me.

Tonight I was able to witness a production that I had a small hand in helping. I can not explain how that made me feel. The excitement and joy of seeing my hard work and the hard work of others unfold before my eyes. Seeing the way the music of a few bands had such an intense impact on those around me, the fans, was astounding. It made me realize that despite the bad wrap the Christian music industry has, I can still have an impact. Or even in a non-christian environment, music still has a profound influence on people. 

I realized that I LOVE production. I love seeing people mingle backstage. Breathing in the air of 1,000s of people and stage equipment. Yes, the equipment has a certain aroma. They say that one of our most powerful senses is the sense of smell and that that is one of the most prominent factors of being attracted to a person. I wonder if that can be true of a job or hobby... Maybe so. I love the sounds and the chaos of working out every detail. Every part of it excites me. 

So now... How can I combine all that I love into something concrete that pays what I want and is flexible? I don't know that I can. Unfortunately, despite what most think, the music industry is not a lucrative business. I will admit that there are a few exceptions, maybe 10% of the industry.. if that. For the most part, people don't choose this biz for the money. 

So my current dilemma... What will truly make me happy? Where can I best serve? How can I do what I love and make a living at it? Answers... anyone?

Friday, March 7, 2008


It is on the rare occasion that I truly feel like a foreigner in Nashville. The city is so eclectic and full of people from all different areas of the country. But today, I feel as though I am from another part of the country far, far away. 

I grew up with snow, sleet, ice, and below freezing temperatures. In fact I recall going to school during several snow storms. Let me quickly define a snow storm in western NY as it may be very different than other areas of the country. A snow storm is when snow is coming down quickly and in high quantities. Accumulation occurs within minutes, not hours and a typical "storm" yields 1 1/2 or more feet of snow. Not only do these things occur but accumulation occurs so quickly that snow plows are not able to keep up and many times they will be forced to wait until the storm lets up a bit. Usually at least 30 % of homes are without electricity due to the weight of snow on the lines and ice in other areas. Unfortunately, we were almost always in that 30%. It is not fun to not have power in 15 degree weather by the way...

I recall driving to tutor a friend in one of the worst storms we had. I drove through 2+ feet of snow on the ground and there was a "white out" meaning you couldn't see anything at all but white. People had ice skating rinks in their yards and sledding and snowmobiling are very common. For my sisters and I, we enjoyed being whipped around on a sled tied behind the 4 - wheeler. My dad tried to knock us out and it was our duty to stay on the sled as long as possible. 

Okay... all this to say there is maybe 2 inches of accumulation outside right now, and I am stunned. I have NEVER seen this much snow in the last 4 years I've lived in TN. It's funny how 2 inches looks like a lot when you've never seen snow in an area. Not to mention the fact that when they were calling for this storm half of the schools in TN kept students at home and the other half let them out early. Everyone rushed to the grocery stores to purchase milk, bread, eggs, and cheese. I have never seen the Publix parking lot full and today it was jam packed. The product that seemed to be disappearing the fastest was, surprisingly, cheese. 

For those of you who haven't been to the south, I need to enlighten you for a moment as well. If they are calling for snow, schools and businesses shut down. If it starts snowing, people don't know what to do, except go to the grocery store as fast as they can and stock up on everything to make sure they're set in case they get stranded. They are simply not equipped with salt and plows like much of the northern states. And that is because it is on the rare occasion that there is enough snow-like precipitation to initiate the need for a plow or salt. 

I plan on adding pictures as soon as I find my camera cord... So keep checking back!

All this just reminds me that although I love Nashville, NY is still and will always be my heritage.


I love baby-sitting, and I'm not sure that is something that will ever change. Having my own children some day may alter that, but there is something about watching different children that is invigorating. In the midst of having a "big girl job" I can not help but desire to babysit on nights and weekends when I am able. 

Children are so intelligent. Sometimes, I think they are way more intelligent than many adults. Of course they are silly and do silly things, but if you observe them long enough you may see what I am talking about. Not only are children intelligent but they have something most of us are lacking, faith. Think about it... Children have faith that they are going to get food from their parents. They have faith that all their needs will be met; clean clothes, a house,.. Not only that, but they believe in mythical figures like Santa Claus and the tooth fairy or even characters they make up. Their imaginations are vivid and the simplest things excite them. I have not heard of many children that will not choose a box full of peanuts over the toy that came in that box. They find the box fascinating and immediately jump in and pretend it is a swimming pool, rocket ship, or a house. 

They have what I desire most. Although being a kid was fun, what I miss more than anything is that faith, faith in people and faith in Jesus. Somehow within a year or two you begin to lose the faith that fueled so much of your life. As you get older you may continue to "believe" but your faith grows weary. People let you down time and time again and you stop trusting them. It seems the more you try to regain that faith within you, the more you are burned out or drawn away. 

So that is my present journey, to regain my childlike faith. I believe, I love, I serve, I follow... but my faith needs to grow. 

Here is yet another reason why I love children. 

So we're standing in the kitchen and the dog, Kingsley the very beautiful yet large English Bullmastiff, is there with us. She is happy and is waging her tail. So Hillary, being the adorable two year old she is, stands by Kingsley and lets her tail hit her hand. 

Hillary: Kingsley's tail like a drum stick. 
Me: What'd you say Hill?
Hillary: Kingsley's tail is like a drum stick. She wants to hit a drum with her tail. I go get her a drum so she can hit it.

So she proceeds to run into the play room to try to find a drum. Somewhere along the way she got distracted and forgot. Poor Kingsley didn't get to drum with her tail after all. :(

Haha... Hope that makes you smile. :)