Military life comes with a certain degree of separation and a large portion of goodbyes. As a military family you learn to treasure friends when you find them because in a short time you're introductions turn to farewells. If you're lucky you'll stay in touch via social media and if you hit the lottery you may be stationed at the same location again with a good time-frame of overlapping between another move.
Sometimes you have the rare treasure of having a military friend who has family in the same location as you and the friendship can grow into one that will last well into your golden years. George and I are that lucky.
He and his friend, Michael, grew up in the same neighborhood and after high school Mike headed to the Navy and George headed to college where he joined the Army. Eventually wives and children joined the mix and "coming home to visit" gave us more "family" to visit. Now that we are living back in the old neighborhood we've become part of the family their coordinate into those busy trips home.
Erin and I have a friendship that was born because of our husbands' history and grew fast because of the shared understanding of military life. It's hard to explain to those who don't live the daily life of a military family, but there are small daily things that you don't get if you don't live it. Today for example we talked about how even when you are unpacking from a new move you are taking notes on what to do differently when packing the next time, and how even putting away holiday decorations is extreme because you don't know if you will receive orders to move before you open them again, so you have to pack with that knowledge.
That's not to say that we can't find comfort and support from those family and friends who are not military, but it's sort of an unspoken understanding.
During this visit, we've had a bit of time to get together with what has come to be known as "The Four Families", a group that includes two other friends from George's childhood in this neighborhood. With Mike and Erin staying down the street, we've also had some one-on-one time to visit and relax. Today was one of those days.
The Lil Monkey spent the day with my parents and I called Erin to see if she wanted to come over to sew. When their oldest was younger he received a lot of handmade gifts from family members, such as blankets, quilts, afghans, etc. In the 10 years between their oldest and youngest, many of those family members have passed away and Erin was sad that their second child wouldn't have some of the same heirlooms later. I offered to make a quilt and other little things earlier this year and she was excited but also expressed how she'd love to learn to sew as well.
We were finally able to have a good amount of child-free time for both of us today, so she came over to help layout the quilt (I wanted her to have as much participation as possible) and to learn the sewing basics. After getting her comfortable with my sewing machine and showing her to basics, I pulled out the easiest projects to learn to sew on ... Quiltsmart ZigZapps! and Wine Shades. She felt comfortable starting with the Wine Shades because of the straight lines.
I sorted through my recently consolidated fabric stash pulled out some pink polka dot fabric that matched the quilt we'd been working on for her daughter's soon-to-be big girl room. She was a little hesitant at first, but when I explained that the wine shades were very forgiving as far as staying on the stitching lines and such, she started to feel a little more confident.
She slowly stitched along, talking herself through the steps and buttons, while I organized my box of ZigZapps! looking for some more Wine Shades. I'd recently given my roll of panels to my Mom who was short for a class she was teaching and was now regretting not keeping some. I soon got lucky, finding a few pre-cut wine shades interfacing panels as her confidence grew and she began chatting about making set for each holiday. I dug around in my fabric a little more and found fabric for her to use to make wine shades for 4th of July/Veteran's Day, Thanksgiving/Fall, and Halloween.
A few hours after starting she had a stack of completed wine shades, the remaining panels I could find and a list of fabric to get at the store this week. I'm not sure of I should be proud like a Mama Bird whose chick learned to fly, or if I should worry that I have created a tornado that cannot be contained! But I guess I'll worry about that later because now I have to show her the ZiggZapp! flowers, leaves and petals, stars and more!!!
It was truly an amazing day to be able to take a break from the realities of military life and the looming separation and just get creative. Quiltsmart made it easy to get have fun while learning, and who knows what crafty craziness we try next!!
Until our next cup of tea ...