So without further ado, here is my top secret deployment project which I have titled,
The Adventures of Flat Nick.
On August 8, 2012, my husband Lt. Nick Miller finally returned home from a six month deployment. I was so excited to see him...and almost more excited that I could finally show him the project I've been working on since the day he left.
So without further ado, here is my top secret deployment project which I have titled,
The Adventures of Flat Nick.
Special thanks to all my friends and family who put up with the very weird looks from strangers as they helped me complete this project- and also kept it a secret. Couldn't have done it without you and my good friend, wine.
Palm Christmas trees, beach days,Hawaiian shirts, sunblock, and Mai Tais...ahhh, Hawaii for the holidays. What an experience.
As nice as it would have been to visit my family and/or Nick's for the holiday's, our schedules (and wallets) disagreed with us. Thus we were forced to spend our first holiday season as a married couple, stuck (GASP!) here on a tropical island with our two lovable pups.
My awesome non-profit job gave me paid vacation Christmas Eve through through New Year's Eve and Nick's leave began a few days after mine. The only holiday day he was scheduled to work was Christmas Eve, and he was released early in the day since they weren't busy.
On Christmas Eve, we were fortunate enough to have dinner with two of Nick's Naval Academy friends on the Kaneohe Marine Base (one of which is stationed here and the other was visiting- neither of whom we have seen in quite some time) and their wives with whom I am also friends. It was such a nice thought to invite us over! (Thank you, Melissa, Jared, and Gunnar!)
Christmas day we slept in (as late as possible with a yapping beagle puppy), had banana bread and yummy leftovers from dinner with friends the night before. Then for dinner, since I don't eat meat and Nick's not a huge turkey person anyway, we had favorite foods: bacon wrapped bratwursts for him and whole grain spaghetti with roasted garlic spaghetti sauce for the both of us. With mixed drinks! We even decorated our first Christmas tree (Yes! a Christmas palm tree!) that morning.
I was lucky enough to chat with my whole family via Skype on Christmas Eve while I awkwardly was making cheesecake squares and happened to have my computer on the counter- I felt like they were watching me to see if I'd add an ingredient incorrectly! On Christmas morning I opened my presents from my sister over Skype while she watched then she and my niece and brother in law opened the ones I sent/ordered. It was a very technologically inspired holiday.
New Years Eve is a more important holiday to me and Nick than Christmas. We only spent our first Christmas together last year. Three years prior we had met early in December. On New Years Eve I had started to fall for Nick pretty hard and couldn't picture myself kissing anyone else at midnight. To me, it felt important to start the year off with Nick. Nick had been visiting his family in St. Louis, MO at the time on leave from the Naval Academy.
Brave (crazy?) as I was, I wanted to see him so badly I drove 14 hours overnight from Maryland to Missouri to arrive in time for New Years Eve. We had such an amazing time that Nick canceled his plane ticket back to MD and drove back with me. We officially became a couple just a few days afterward and I really believe things wouldn't have progressed the same way had I not made the decision to go (so thank you to my best friend Erin for not thinking I was crazy for wanting to go when I asked her for advice).
Since there's a chance Nick won't be off next year for NYE and for all we know we may not still live in Hawaii two years from now, I thought we should experience Waikiki on New Years Eve at least once.
We booked a hotel for New Years Eve night and the following night so we wouldn't have to rush home. We went to Tiki's Grill for New Years Eve dinner. Tiki's is one of my favorite restaurants on the island. It's fun, light-hearted, and we had our wedding reception there after we got married in March. Well, a dinner of 5 people but still. :)
Although we must be getting old...After an amazing dinner we walked around Waikiki with every intention of returning to Tiki's for a crazy night of drinking and dancing and watching fireworks at midnight. Instead we returned to our waterfront room and chugged lots of water while sitting out on the lanai watching the fireworks in sweatpants and no makeup. I even forgot to open the champagne at midnight! (My 23 year old self would be ashamed.)
We had an amazing mini-vacation/mini-moon. The following night we went on a very enjoyable sunset catamaran cruise in Waikiki with complimentary beverages included (booze cruise). Nick even bought me a beautiful pearl necklace after the cruise to celebrate our 3 year dating anniversary.
It was so much fun to kick off the new year on this gorgeous island pretending to be tourists. We moved here one year ago in February- I can't believe we have been island bound for nearly a whole year! I'd say it flew by- and it kind of did- other than that whole deployment time. :)
While it was a bit of a bummer not to see my family for the holidays, the 80-something degree weather is very consoling. I hope everyone had an amazing holiday season and a happy new year! Here's to a healthy, happy new year! :)
Day 101 of Deployment....
I have been absolutely awful at writing lately. I’d like to say because I’ve been spending EVERY waking minute at the beach but in actuality, I do work. Albeit a part time job, but still.
I’m three months into deployment. I spent the first month pretty involved with the other boat wives (and ate a LOT of pizza), the second month I completely withdrew and didn’t want to do anything. I feel like I’m definitely coming back up from that. There’s a chart of the emotions that statistically most women go through during a deployment.
Dole Plantation's Fields
I refused to read the article for fear the psychology major in me would try to replicate the emotions needlessly. Instead I’m doing my own thing and enjoying my own therapy: the beach. The beach has been comfort to me. Other than the beach, I have been working. Actually, my position with the non-profit I have been working as a temp with has gone so well that they are going to take me on as a permanent employee! Pretty exciting. And comes with a pretty decent raise. I really enjoy working there though I adore my boss and she is leaving so I’m not sure how that will change things. I just believe everything will work out the way it should.
My sister and niece came out to visit and stayed with me just over a week. I thought it was going to be a relaxing, laid- back trip (her words!) but we ended up getting up early every day (same time I get up for work and earlier some days- though for them it was like sleeping in with the time difference) and we did a TON of stuff.
Hanauma Bay Preservation
It was awesome though. We had such a crazy week that we (and by we I mean mostly her) took over 1100 pictures. And broke two waterproof cameras. Thank God for my iPhone because it became our only camera and actually took great pictures.
Sun setting over Waikiki
Some of the highlights of the week- Paradise Cove luau, and driving around the island from Waikiki to North Shore and back down through the middle of the island to ‘Ewa (the west side isn’t really worth going to since it’s not very pretty and has a lot of homeless camps). We of course went to Matsumoto’s World Famous Shave Ice in North Shore. We snorkeled in Hanauma Bay- one of the best snorkel sites on the island, also a preservation. We snorkeled with sea turtles on a snorkel and sail trip in Waikiki. Amazing! I almost swam into a 3 ½ foot turtle floating on the surface that I thought was an overweight man drifting. Of course that was the day my waterproof camera broke. Just before we saw the turtles. Hmph.
We did a sunset (booze) cruise with the same boat, the Outrigger, the next night. Highly recommend. It rained hard but cleared up in time for the sunset. And we got to observe some military guys hitting on some young Australian tourists. Pretty fascinating, especially after a few more drinks.
Train tour of Dole Plantation
We took a train through the Dole Pineapple Plantation. Yup, that Dole. We also did the “World’s Largest Maze” at the Dole Plantation. It’s a huge maze made up of tall bushes. You have to get all the way through but you also have to find stations that are set up throughout the maze that have stencils in them so you can stencil the design onto your score card.
Who knew this is what pineapples look like growing?
The record to get all designs and get out is 12 minutes. We were in there an hour and a half. At high noon. Whew!
Saturday we visited Pearl Harbor. I didn’t take a ton of picture there and it honestly had me pretty emotional. I hope that’s the last trip I make there though it was really beautiful.
I had an amazing time with my sister and niece. We called it Camp Aloha- girls only. Even my dog is a girl. It was a blast and it was so nice to have my family come out and support me here- plus it gave me a reason to get the house looking pretty.
Pearl Harbor Memorial
Back to the beach.
I am a worrier at heart. I take after my mom who STILL mentions every time I talk to her to “Watch your drinking! You know it’s not good for you.” Even though I constantly tell her my sorority days are over and I literally have a glass or two of red wine with dinner every other night or so. So actually, Mom- red wine IS good for you in moderation which I swear I do! Sigh.
Anyway I stress about little things. Missing Nick. Having my boss leave. Work. Etc.
USS Arizona Memorial
I’ve been trying to make beach trips during the week after work. It’s the perfect time since it’s not too hot about 3 or 3:30 and I can stay for a few hours and relax.
Today I had to go in early for a conference call so I got out at 1pm and got to the beach by 2:30. While I was there I read (Eat Pray Love- so addictive!), and napped, and relaxed. It got me thinking.
Ali'i Kai Catamaran- Ladies Dinner Cruise
What is it that I love about the beach so much? It’s not the water so much. Honestly I have a horrible fear of drowning and of not knowing what’s below me if I can’t see bottom. As clear as the water is here, the lagoon I was at today still gets really deep and I can’t see the bottom and get a teeeeeeeny bit freaked that a shark or something might come up under me (we actually saw one when we were at Pearl Harbor- cliché with it’s fin sticking up out of the water and all) but I relaxed in knowing there were snorkelers closer to the entrance of a lagoon so the shark would go after them first. Morbid I know. I probably could have said they would have seen a shark before it got to me. Ah well.
Lanikai Beach- my favorite!
I didn’t grow up at the beach. I lived in Baltimore a lot of my life and the closest beach is good ol’ Ocean City, Maryland, which is roughly a 3 hour (or less if you decide you like getting speeding tickets) drive from Baltimore.
As I lay there today thinking I finally realized when it was that I grew to love the beach so much.
When I was 21 I lived in Ocean City for the summer with an old flame (which didn’t burn very brightly). I worked a lot and worked some long hours while I was there. But every week the two of us would have a day or two off. Amidst our fighting, I would seek solace at the beach.
Beach along the Windward side
Even if it was only for a few hours I would be content to be at the beach by myself because he didn’t like to go. That was my time of peace and reflection. It was my calm in the middle of a storm of a relationship. I could just sit and meditate on the waves and soak in the glorious sun.
The summer after we finally broke up, I waitressed and had lenient hours. I drove the 3 hours to the beach almost every weekend for weeks. Literally. I racked up so many miles on my car that summer.
Waila'lae Beach where Nick & I got married
Even if it was just for the day (which it usually was) I would drive the three hours there just to spend some time relaxing, drifting off into that uber-relaxed stage where you’re not entirely sure you’re asleep but don’t remember being awake as I listened to the waves. To me it was worth it. (The tan didn’t look too bad either though I’m much more careful about my sunblock usage now.)
Uhoh. Booze cruise (sorry Mom!)
As I was at the beach today I was reminded of that. I will never be an amazing swimmer and unfortunately not a mermaid (my six year old self just cried out, “NOOOO!”) but at the beach I can just close my eyes and just be. I don’t need to try to be someone I’m not. I don’t need to impress anyone. I don’t need to talk to anyone. I can just listen to the waves and relax and just breathe and drift off…
Drive home from the beach today
On the drive home today I was in a state of bliss. I always seem to accidentally time my leaving the beach (which is only about 15-20 minutes away from my house) so that I’m driving back home at sunset. All around me are the trademark Hawaiian clouds- low and wispy in the sky. Colors of powder purple and dusty pink that make me think of the smoothest, silkiest twirl of cotton candy.
These are the moments. :)
The sun setting pinkish orange across the mountains in my side view mirrors, and oldies playing on the radio (somehow it just seems perfect to listen to them at these moments).
I’m amazingly fortunate to be living in paradise and to be so close to something that comforts me so much when I’m by myself and don’t have a best friend close enough to talk to. I just know that time will continue to go by but hopefully more quickly now that I’m already at over the 100 day mark. Hopefully before I know it Nick will be home and we’ll be able to see this island- and all the other ones close by!- really soon.
Until then, I have my beach and I have my bliss. So I’m okay.
“You were given life; It is your duty (and also your entitlement as a human being) to find something beautiful within life, no matter how slight.”
-Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love
Oh my goodness! Things have been super busy lately!
Cruising the coast
My sister and niece came to visit me on Saturday. It got off to a rocky start since they were actually supposed to have gotten in on Friday but became stuck in LA overnight and were able to get a standby Saturday morning. It was such a bummer to miss out on basically a day since they were so exhausted from the two days and 35 hours worth of traveling.
We managed to have a great day beach day at Ko Olina on Sunday followed by a luau on Sunday night at Paradise Cove at Ko Olina...kind of cheesy but fun nonetheless. And yummy drinks.
Me- and sissy in the background
I had to work all day Monday due to a quarterly board meeting as well as having two of our chapter employees in from LA visiting so there was a lot to be done. But I have the rest of the week off and am already having a blast. I can't wait to post all of the pictures on here later this week! In the meanwhile, follow me on Twitter as I update on all the places I'm going and I'll post pictures frequently too!
It feels so good to be at the beach in paradise. :)
Nick and I have been having a lot of fun together just watching movies and spending time together.
Today is Saturday and we're planning another Mini-Moon today...after the yardwork gets done anyway. Our one month anniversary was this past week. :)
As soon as I finish typing this I'm pouring myself a glass of champagne and getting prettied up.
We have two tickets to the Ali`i Kai Catamaran dinner cruise this evening in Waikiki. Nick gave me my birthday present early- my new waterproof digital camera. My birthday isn't for another two weeks but his camera stopped working the weekend of sub ball and mine ran out of battery. And the battery charger is missing. It was time to get a new one. I'm so excited to have my new waterproof one and hope to take even more awesome beach pics now that I don't have to worry about it getting wet or anything. In fact, I believe we're going to Lanikai beach tomorrow so I'll aim to get some great shots then.
Hope everyone has a great weekend! I know we will.
Off to sip some champagne...Cheers!
Our wedding wasn’t exactly conventional...but then again, I'm quickly learning that nothing is very conventional when it comes to military life. :)
Nick and I had originally been planning on picking a date next year to have our wedding, a date when all our family could make it.
When we got to the island though, we just realized how much easier things would be if we went ahead and got married now instead of waiting. We were excited to get married..plus it was even more exciting to think about having a private ceremony and practically eloping.
I watch all the crazy wedding shows- Say Yes to the Dress, Bridezillas, Four Weddings...People get so focused on making everyone else happy that they can easily lose sight of what's most important to them. What I loved about what we did was that we focused exactly on what we wanted and had a beautiful little memorable wedding.
I planned for about a month and a half- not easy to do in Hawaii. People and life move a little bit slower here- “Aloha time.” Companies were not quick to respond to me when I was on a deadline. Nick could only do the wedding on certain days with his work schedule so it wasn't an easy month of planning but everything came together beautifully. The two things I really wanted to be perfect were the dress and the photographer- and those two were definitely what we spent the most money on- but well worth it.
Our close family and some friends knew about the wedding but it was so much fun to surprise everyone else.
The wedding took place at Waia'lae Beach Park on the island of O'ahu in front of the Kahala Resort Hotel on Sunday, March 21st, 2010 at 4pm. We had just three guests present- Jared (Nick's roommate from the Naval Academy) and his wife Melissa (and their baby Gunnar too) and our friend Megan who is dating another guy named Lou who Nick went to the Naval Academy with. Lou was unfortunately unable to make it. The dates for his month-long mission kept changing and he ended up coming home the day after our wedding.
Megan was there with me in the beginning to help pick out my dress, which I was sad to do without my mom and sister and best friends.
I realized that by doing the wedding early there would be bittersweet moments. I wanted my mom, my sister, and my two closest friends there.
By having this private ceremony, Nick and I never had engagement pictures, I never had a true bachelorette party, and we're not going to have a honeymoon for some time. So things are definitely happening out of order but...like I said, not conventional.
But there was something so special about it just being basically us. I never thought I would have my wedding on a beach. That's not to say that's not what I wanted- but beaches back in Maryland aren't what I'd dream of for a beach wedding, and east coast weather is far too unpredictable for me to even have tried to plan an outside wedding if we lived there.
Being in Hawaii really opened up a lot of possibilities. We couldn't have asked for more beautiful weather.
The night before the wedding we exchanged our wedding gifts. Nick gave me my first pair of pearl earrings- so beautiful and something I had been hinting about but not even on purpose. I gave Nick handkerchiefs which I had embroidered for him with his initials, our wedding date, and “I love you.”
The day of the wedding I had my hair and makeup done by an amazing artist in Honolulu by the name of Maleana Cosmetics. Megan came over to the studio while I was getting ready and we toasted champagne in plastic champagne glasses.
Thank God for the champagne- now I know why people hire wedding planners. I was so stressed something would go wrong! Fortunately, my hair and makeup turned out beautifully. It was really cool getting airbrush makeup. And my hair turned out perfect- it was mostly down with some pieces on the sides and top pulled back and dendrobium orchids tucked into the back.
Nick had dropped me off at the studio and had gone to pick up the cake to take to the restaurant where we would later have our reception dinner. I was so worried he wouldn't get back in time. I originally hadn't wanted him to see me before the wedding, but since the wedding would be outside at the beach there weren't a lot of options- he would have seen me at some point anyway. I was really happy though we timed it out so that he didn't see me getting my hair and makeup done. He got back in time and the videographer filmed Nick when he saw me for the first time in my gown with everything done up. I'll never forget the look on his face. :)
My gown was a light ivory color, A-line/empire waist with a champagne colored ribbon tied around and a cameo with ivory lace on the back. The dress itself was a lace overlay with embroidered flowers and beaded pearls. My veil was about shoulder length with a classic ribbon on the bottom.
Nick's suit was a khaki colored linen fitted suit. He wore an aqua button-up shirt beneath it with an aqua, turquoise and silver polka dot tie, a light pink pocket square with white trim (to match my ribbon), and a Thai dendrobium orchid boutinerre. (He considered wearing his uniform but it just seemed too formal for the relaxed beach wedding we had planned.)
My bouquet consisted of white, crème-colored, light pink, and apricot garden roses. It was originally going to be dahlias but the dahlias were in a storm earlier that week so they had to be replaced with garden roses last minute. They actually smelled really amazing and looked beautiful so it ended up working out very well.
I bought Nick a straw fedora from Banana Republic and gave it to him the day before the wedding. He wore it in a few of the photographs and it looked awesome on him. After searching for over a month I found a pair of aqua polka-dot peep toe shoes. I didn't actually wear them for the ceremony (I was barefoot, Nick wore Rainbows) but they were great for the pictures later and added a fun little splash of color. They also matched Nick's shirt very well.
Upon leaving the makeup studio, we rushed to the beach and found the photographer, Elizabeth Morgan, who snapped some shots while Nick parked the car, and we all walked up to the beach to find the minister. The one sad thing I will say about the day was one thing didn't go as planned; I was going to have a guy playing guitar to "Stand By Me" as I walked up the aisle and "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz on ukulele after they pronounced us husband and wife.
Unfortunately, the craziness of wedding planning got to me. I searched all around trying to find the perfect person for the job and was so happy when I found a guy...however, as I realized the day after our wedding, almost the whole time the uke player and I communicated via email, I was saying the wrong date- April 21st. Nick even looked over the contract before I signed it...for April 21st. Neither of us caught it. He later told me if I had gotten a hold of him sooner it probably wouldn't have been a problem to make it that day. Unfortunately we had to go on with the wedding without him. It went fine without him, I just would have really loved the music. He was kind enough to give us a refund though since it was such a miscommunication.
Other than that, everything went smoothly and perfectly. We had a little spot on a patch of grass next to a palm tree on the beach. Megan had scattered some dendrobium orchid heads on the ground.
The wedding itself was so beautiful...but I couldn't tell you anything that the minister said. Megan and Melissa both did a reading for us- 1st Corinthians. Nick and I both wrote a little something to say to each other and it was very emotional reading our feelings.
After the ceremony and the signing of the marriage certificate, we got a few group shots with Jared, Melissa, Megan and Gunnar before they left to wait for us at the restaurant. We stayed for an additional hour getting lots of fun pictures- barefoot walking on the beach, dancing on the beach, balancing on rocks, me jumping into his arms, him carrying me into the water, me actually getting attacked by a wave at one point (the whole train of my dress got wet), gazing into each other's eyes, and more dancing on the beach, and walking off into the sunset.
Afterwards, we headed to a fun little restaurant in Waikiki called Tiki's Bar & Grill. My main goal with finding a restaurant was that I wanted somewhere that had entertainment and that was fun with really good food. Originally I was looking into fancier restaurants but none of them allowed you to be very close to the entertainment, or simply didn't have entertainment on a Sunday night. Tiki's looked fun from the pictures- Tiki poles all over the restaurant, a fun-looking atmosphere and a good menu with some really yummy-sounding drinks.
When we got there, Megan had scattered flowers all over the table. We had glasses of champagne waiting for us (we got to keep the commemorative Tiki's glasses!). We all had calamari and bruschetta for appetizers. I had a Mai Tai in a fun coconut cup...which ended up having a picture of Lono, the god of fertility and peace. We had a good laugh about that.
Nick had dropped off our cake at the restaurant earlier on that day so I hadn't seen the final product yet. It was so beautiful! I ordered the cake from A Cake Life, which I actually found on Twitter before moving to the island. It was a two tier buttercream cake with lilikoi filling (passion fruit) and fondant icing. It was the smallest two-tier they could make- a 6inch bottom layer and a 4 inch top layer, all 8 inches high total. It had a turquoise ribbon around the bottom of each layer and tiny pearl dots scattered on the fondant. On the top and sides as accents were real, tiny pink roses.
Nick and I weren't too messy with the cake cutting and eating. He made sure he took off his suit jacket first just in case. I did end up accidentally getting some on his face. :)
We saved the entire top tier of the cake by ziplock-bagging it and sticking it in the freezer...I hope it tastes as good a year from now!
After Megan, Melissa, and Jared left, Nick and I went to the giftshop. I have a tradition of collecting random bar/restaurant t-shirts for my future alcoholic patchwork quilt so I definitely wanted to get a t-shirt to remember the night. We both ended up getting a t-shirt and posing in front of the huge Lono Tiki statue-probably my favorite picture of the whole day.
We ended up going home with two Tiki's champagne glasses, a 20 oz Tiki glass, a Tiki coconut cup, and two t-shirts.
The night ended way too early, but Nick had to work the next day. The whole day was such a dream come true.
It was just so much FUN- once I had a glass of champagne at the hair studio and relaxed and stopped stressing about everything going well. It just went well on its own. Nick and I agreed later that we're happy it was kind of just us sharing our moment the first time. We still plan to have the whole family and our friends out next year for a bigger wedding and party. (Hopefully we can get the ukulele player for that!) But it was nice to have some privacy and not worry about everyone else and making sure they were happy and comfortable for this time.
I felt like everyone was there in spirit too. One idea I had come up with when I first started planning the wedding was to have my mom, sister, and two best friends contribute to my “Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed and Something Blue.” I got one from each of them to wear that day.
I received a pearl bracelet from my mother (Old), a pin that was my grandma's from my sister (Borrowed), and a garter (Blue) and heart toe ring (New) from Erin and Rachel, my two best friends. My sister also lent me a pretty diamond hair clip that she wore on her wedding day too.
It was really nice to have them think of me and I was happy to be able to see them there with me when I looked at the items. My sister also sent me an amazing wedding countdown with a little plastic blonde Bride wedding topper that was Velcro-ed to the countdown and moved from date to date.
I don’t think I’d change a thing about that day. It was just so much fun and I felt really pretty and so happy. J The next night after Nick got off work, we ordered a Dominos thin crust white garlic parmesan pizza (my favorite!), had champagne, and watched Just Married. I called it our “Mini-moon.” We also have a sunset dinner cruise coming up toward the end of this month that we won in a silent auction. That will be another mini-moon for us. We’re going to wait a few months until things settle down and then plan a honeymoon to another island, probably Kauai. There are ziplines, rainforests, beaches, hiking and so much more to do there. We still definitely plan on having a bigger wedding next year- enough in advance for our family and friends to come visit.
We’re so happy to be newlyweds now! It feels so grownup when I say I have a “husband.” We still watch Family Guy and make “That’s what she said” jokes. Our idea of a fun night is still staying in and cuddling on the couch. We’re just an old married couple now. I love it.
Thank you to all our family and friends for supporting us and loving us. I’m so excited to have a new last name and a new family now!
If you would like to see our wedding website (which I started the week before the wedding) or view our registry page, please visit: www.sarahlovesnick.com