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Entries in military wife & life (57)


bedtime books just for dad.

it's hard to believe ryan has been home from deployment a full year (!!). while that chapter feels like a long time ago, i feel like i'm constantly learning so much about this way of life. one of the great provisions in the military is that you're not doing it alone -- there are those that have gone before you, those that are right there in the thick of it with you. kind souls who don't minimize or diminish the hard things, but also who inspire and hope and believe right along side you -- that this a good life, where the strengths outweigh the trials.

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fifth year of marriage.

when we found out i was pregnant (way back in march!), we knew our fifth wedding anniversary would be spent anticipating this little girl, our second daughter. i didn't think about it at the time, but that also meant i would be in a season of intense nesting. as someone who certainly doesn't need to be pregnant to nest on a regular basis, the end of pregnancy can get a tad absurd with the projects i create for myself. the best part is that because of all the time ellie has spent with me, that girl knows how to clean! we've done hilarious things like scrub the oven and clean the baseboards (you haven't lived til you've done those things with a two year old!). one morning, i applied an entire canister of saddle soap to an old leather chair -- it's now so slippery, ellie slides off every time she tries to climb up, which makes us laugh. ryan & i deep cleaned our shed. they've both been really wonderful and patient and helpful.

all this to say, the other day, i found myself looking at one of my favorite frames in our house. my dear friend kat gave it to us as our wedding present, it's an oversized matted silver frame. inside is a tiny square of the photograph above. i remember framing it thinking "i want to look at that exact moment from our wedding night every day." for the first time, i noticed how tarnished the frame had become. as i was applying some polish to it, i was thinking about these five years of marriage. i was thinking about how that frame showed not only the time that has passed but that tarnish itself was such a good reminder. how i wasn't polishing that frame to take away the time that has passed-- i'm deeply, deeply grateful for it. our work over the past five years makes our marriage mean more than it ever could have on that beautiful, november night we made our vows. it was so important for me to realize the reason i was polishing the frame was because i wanted it to last, not to try to make it prettier or have it appear new and shiny. that i want to be looking at it in another forty years and know i've taken care of it, that it has stood the test of time and all that time carried with it.

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doug & allison's homecoming!


deployment letters to ellie.

below are the two letters i wrote ellie on the eve of each of ryan's homecomings -- while these are meant for her, an exchange between a mother & a daughter -- i'm working to grow braver & kinder about how i share in this space -- as glennon would say, to be a reckless truth teller, because each of our truth matters and gives us the best chance to know each other.


Ellie Girl,

As I sit here, on the last night of our first deployment – yours and mine – I’m overwhelmed with gratitude that you’ve been my companion for the past six months. It took me 28 years to grow brave enough to face a deployment, and it took you only four short months. While many people would say you are a baby, and so it’s hard to imagine you could actually have these qualities – I know for certain you are strong and brave and loving and kind and intuitive and bright spirited. I know because they seem to be at the core of who you are – the way you wake up every morning, greet each new experience, and interact with others. Certainly, over the course of these six months you went from baby, to little person – showing so much of your personality and spirit. Your daddy and I are so beyond grateful for all the ways you strengthened Team Yonkman during this time.

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miss rumphius.

five months into ryan's second deployment, ellie & i were cuddled up in the chair in the corner of her room, where we had been most nights of her life, doing what we do every night, reading a few books. i was, in a word, exhausted. that month had included the most moments of feeling like i wasn’t enough, like she needed her dad’s patience. his kindness. his presence. it was a night when i was reading, but really was phoning it in. i knew the words on the pages by heart, and mentally was honestly already downstairs having a glass of wine. it, in hindsight, was the hardest month of those 14 months of deployment, and i had so little left to give.

we’d reached a new stage of bedtime reading in that she could sit still for longer stories, with more text on each page, so long as there were beautiful, intricate illustrations. with a few books in particular, she would study each page – finding things she knew – dogs, cats, buckets, shovels, tractors, kids, babies. she was at that moment of development where most of her day was spent verbally affirming the things she knew – repeating them over and over again. each word also needed the same tagline: “mommy.” and so our whole day had been spent “mommy -- car!” “mommy -- truck!” “mommy -- slide!” “mommy-- strawberry!” we were at about the 7000th time that day she’d said my name.

the final book that night was miss rumphius, a beautiful story, i’d read growing up. it’s about a little girl, alice, who lives with her grandfather. she tells him that when she grows up she wants to go to faraway places and live by the sea. he tells her she must do one final thing – she must make the world more beautiful. & so, after she goes to faraway places, she finds her house by the sea, and sets out to do the final thing, by planting lupine flowers. one of the final illustrations is of her village – the church, schoolhouse, sea – all surrounded by lupines. i hadn’t even noticed the flagpole and American flag, but ellie had.

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homecoming day.