It’s been a while since I’ve done an informal behind-the-scenes update. And since we’re all probably rolling a little slow this morning coming off the long holiday weekend, I thought it was the perfect time to catch up! So if you need a little distraction at the start of the work week, grab a coffee (or your beverage of choice!) and let’s chat about what’s going on in our life behind the blog!

Catch up on past Coffee Break posts HERE!

Life After Deployment

It’s now been about 6 weeks since Greg returned home from his latest deployment. And to briefly sum up our “Return and Reunion” (what the military calls the post-deployment period), I would say “awesome.” But you guys know I am anything but brief, so I’ll fill you in a little bit more.

Every deployment is so unique…with its own highs and lows, trials and successes…most of which are dependent on the type of deployment, length of time apart, home life, location (his and mine) and community support. This deployment was particularly busy for both of us. Greg’s job was incredibly stressful and demanding, and life with two kiddos and a business to run left me with little time to be lonely, bored or sad. While all this hustle certainly made the time fly, it also prevented Greg and I from remaining as connected as we’ve been on past deployments. Early in the deployment, I think we both worried that we weren’t talking, writing, or bonding “enough.”  However, we’ve done this enough to know and understand there is a certain amount of detaching you simply have to do in order to make it through, live your life, and do your job (his: military service, mine: keep the family going). The circumstances necessitated that we detach a little more fully this time around, and so we did…clinging, trusting, hoping that we’d find our way back together again once it was over.

But you guys…9 months is a long time…long enough for me and the boys to really settle into a new way of life. And I’ll admit, as Greg’s return got closer and closer, I was pretty anxious about reuniting and putting our family back together. I worried our reunion would not go as smoothly as it has in the past. Did we live our own lives just a bit too much to truly come back together as a family? Had I become too independent? Did we still know how to work as a team? Do we still know how to live together? Do we still love and like each other (scary and weird to ask, but true)? Did I do enough to keep the boys connected with their Dad? And on and on and on.

Here’s the craziest thing about deployments though…and I think many military families would tell you the same. Once deployments are over…they are over. All the waiting and anticipation and the worry and the stress are gone. Gone…almost the second they walk through the front door. Sure there are a few days that feel weird and awkward and uncomfortable…but really, it’s just a few. Yes there are things to talk through and adjust and compromise on, but you figure it out. Before we knew it, we settled back into our usual roles (slightly altered of course as the kids, lives, and circumstances change); some things look and function exactly as they did before he left, other things are new and we’re still adapting day-to-day. Life keeps moving forward into a new normal…and that new normal came quicker and feels sweeter than I expected. I am so grateful…and relieved!

We’ve had deployments in the past where we felt broken and defeated by the end. This time around, we’ve emerged feeling full and proud for the hard work we both accomplished and oh-so-grateful to have our family happy, healthy and back together! It feels awesome to close this latest chapter in our story and set our sights on new adventures and challenges that are surely just down the road!

The Organization Toolbox

It’s been just about 2 months since I launched the new Organization Toolbox, and I wanted to not only give a quick update but also share a huge, heart-felt “THANK YOU!” Transitioning the Toolbox to a paid platform was something that was very hard and scary for me. And although I could come up with a million reasons why it might not work, I felt in my heart of hearts that it was the right decision for me, the blog and my family. To say that I’ve been blown away by the success of the Toolbox would be an understatement. So many of you embraced me, my products, and my idea; and I seriously do a real life “happy dance” each and every time a new membership comes through.

Many of you long-time readers know that I have worked tirelessly on this blog for almost 7 years…most of the time doubting my skills and underestimating my achievements. It feels like I have floundered and failed over and over again as I tried to find the right combination of authenticity, enjoyment, and profitability amidst an ever-changing blog landscape that is as infuriating as it is inspiring. The Toolbox is the first big projects I have undertaken that truly, genuinely “clicks” with who I am, what I want to do, and how I want to spend my time. To see it take off so brilliantly has left me humbled, awe-struck and so gosh-darn proud (which really takes a lot for me to say!). It feels like I finally got something right!

So…thank you, my friends. Thank you for supporting this endeavor. Thank you for cheering me on whether a membership was right for you or not. And thank you for allowing me the platform to share my talents and passions with those of you who truly appreciate it! (And speaking of the Toolbox, a Summer Boredom Buster kit hits the blog next week, and it’s one of my favorite kits yet!)

Paperwork 101

Okay. Enough mushy stuff. How about some other, more practical updates!

I have been trying to launch a Paperwork 101 series for for.ever (and I know some of you all are waiting for it). What’s holding me back from getting it going? I just can’t decide the best way to do it (I know that sounds silly, but these are the things I agonize over). My gut reaction is to do an 8-part blog series. But since I only do 8 posts a month total, it would either swallow a whole month or drag out forever. So then I thought about an email-style “workshop,” but I hate that the content wouldn’t be on the blog for casual readers to access. I also thought about adding a Saturday post just for this series throughout the summer but I’m a little worries about adding in extra work when I have kiddos home for the summer #workathomemomproblems. So…I figured, I’d just ask you! Whether you’re interested in this series idea or not, I’d love a response on the questionnaire below! (If you’re reading this in a blog reader, please click through to access the survey!)

Around the House

There are obviously lots of benefits to having Greg home, but one of them has been a renewed effort to work around the house. There are certainly many projects I am capable of and willing do to myself, but there are others that are simply easier, quicker and more fun to do with him. In the weeks since he’s been home, we completely revitalized the backyard by power-washing the entire area, re-arranging furniture, laying some mulch, and installing a (free!) playhouse we got from some friends. The result has been a lot more time spent out back which has been an amazing change for how we live and use this house!

This past weekend, we undertook a massive…and I mean massive…decluttering and reorganization of our garage. I was finally ready to get rid of loads of things we’ve moved over and over and over again yet have never made their way into the house. Although I’m not quite sure Marie Kondo would approve of everything I kept, finally letting go of so much created the space we needed in order to truly maximize space and function in there. I didn’t document a ton of our decluttering because we were working so hard all day long, but we did do some pretty cool organization-related things out there that I think you guys might find useful!

Look for more on both of these spaces coming soon!

Phew! So that’s a quick-ish glimpse at what’s going on in the Duester-house behind-the-scenes! It’s certainly been a busy and exciting time for our family, but we’re generally feeling pretty whole, happy and content these days. And boy…what a nice way to feel!

So tell me something new with you!!!!

See You Soon!