America

I distinctly remember the moment Zach told me he was considering joining the Marine Corps (six weeks after we started dating, mind you).

My first reaction: "If that's what you want to do, then I'll support you."

Clearly I said that because I was an awesome girlfriend. That's entirely false. I had just been diagnosed with Hepatitis A and was on the verge of dying, so I was in no state of mind to be saying things that would affect our lives for the next four and a half years. Whoops.

My second reaction: "Okay, that's cool, but don't expect me to become one of those overly-patriotic, flag-waving, red-white-and-blue-wearing 'Merica girls. It's not happening."

Guess what? It happened.

I've come to the conclusion that it is physically impossible to watch the man you love graduate from boot camp at Parris Island and not feel the need to purchase anything ever made with "USA" embroidered/printed/stamped/bedazzled (too much?) onto it. I mean, have you ever been to a Marine Corps boot camp graduation? Those things are so patriotically motivational that knowing someone who is graduating probably isn't even necessary to start bleeding red, white, and blue. Just show up and watch a bunch of strangers earn the title of United States Marine -- it will change your life. And your wardrobe. And your house decor. And your coffee mugs, window decals, potholders, stationery...

If that wasn't enough, watch the man you love come home from a seven-month combat deployment. Yeah, forget it. Uncle Sam and Lady Liberty just had a baby, and that baby was me. Overly-patriotic, flag-waving, red-white-and-blue-wearing 'Merica girl me.

Which brings us to this July 4th. I awoke to "Assembly" (oh, wait... that's every morning, not just on the 4th of July. Thank you, Zach) and then proceeded to have an extensive Toby Keith karaoke dance party brought to you courtesy of the red, white, and blue ;)

Then, I painted my shorts...



And painted my nails (and drew in my sketchbook)...



And then drove to Winston-Salem to get my 4th of July freak on at a cookout with my family...




Including my cousins...



And a bunch of sparklers...



And our own rendition of "USA" (well, US, anyway...)




Even the cat celebrated life, liberty, and the PURRsuit of happiness because, well, AMEOWica. (Oh, yeah, I just went there.)



Because when you've watched the man you love deploy to Afghanistan, return home safely, and hang up his boots in a tree on Camp Lejeune, America and the 4th of July take on a whole new meaning.



And that, friends, is how I became an overly-patriotic, flag-waving, red-white-and-blue-wearing 'Merica girl. Oorah ;)