milk glass with flowers

This week the twins and I spent 112 hours and 47 minutes discussing the middle school Valentine’s dance.

It’s all so new, this dance thing.  The first of many.  And so it goes without saying that it requires intense discussion and analysis.

Hours on hours of conversation on what to wear and is a dress too much and should you curl your hair or wear it straight or look all casual with a carefully constructed messy bun.  And then there’s the whole boy thing.  Which boy might ask them to the dance and which boy they wanted to ask them and does any one really even dance because they don’t know how and should they just do the nae nae?

And all those butterflies in their stomach.

Super important overwhelming stuff.

And somewhere about hour 97, the twins asked me a question.  “Even though I’ve been married for a hundred years, did I ever get butterflies anymore?

I laughed out loud and said yes.  Even now, I can still look at their father across a crowded room and see him smile at me with a twinkle in his brown eyes and melt just a little and feel a familiar flutter.

So today, I wanted to re-share one of my favorite love stories from the blog.

Butterflies included.

flower decorating for spring

A long time ago in a land far away I stood in a navy dress with brass buttons and over-sized shoulder pads wearing bright red lipstick with my Lee Press-On Nails desperately clutching a chain link fence with tears streaming down my face…..

….and watched as my new husband sailed away.

Silently my shoulder padded shoulders shook with sobs as the ship got smaller and smaller.  I frantically ran down the fence with eyes blinded by tears to try to catch one more glimpse before the ship turned the corner and headed out of the harbor.  Hundreds and hundreds of sailors lined the decks of the ship that day, standing at attention with their crisp white uniforms gleaming in the sun and their heads held high as they left to fight the unknown.

Not one of those sailors knew what the future held.

Not one of those sailors knew what the fighting would bring.

Not one of those sailors knew if they would even return home.

And still they sailed on.

flower decor

Days and weeks went by and as the country watched….the conflict escalated.

I stood my helplessly.




And then without warning it started.  I arrived at work to see terrifying night-time pictures flashing across the national news with bomb after bomb and explosion after explosion….

….a half a world away.

The fighting had begun.

And when I saw those explosions, my world came crumbling down.  I was here and he was there and the sheer helplessness of the situation overwhelmed me.  I wanted to talk to him.  I wanted him to reassure me that he was alright and that he was coming home and that he was going to sail back into the harbor on a sunny day with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eyes, wearing his dress whites on the deck of that ship….

….and that all was right with the world.

But it wasn’t.

And I felt my heart crack in two.

how to decorate with flowers

And then….suddenly……I heard my name over the loud-speaker at work.  They said they needed me in the office….that I needed to go at once…..that I had a call from an officer.

A call?


From an officer?

I didn’t want a call.

Not even a little.

All the calls I had ever seen in the movies from officers during a war…..never ended well.

I entered the office and with shaking hands took the phone and I think I said hello.  It was the smallest tiniest hello I have ever said in my entire life that sounded like a cross between a squeak and a whisper.

“Mrs. Wood….this is a ship to shore call.  We have your husband on the line.  Please be aware that all conversations on this call will be repeated several times to transfer information to the ship.  Please begin when you are ready,” boomed a loud voice at me over the line.

I didn’t understand.

A ship to shore call?

I didn’t know what to say… I simply said “Hello again?”

And then I heard it…..across the miles of land and ocean……the hello repeated from military personnel to military personnel……over and over and over again.

“Hello again.”  “Hello again.”  “Hello again.” “Hello again.”


Until it reached my husband half a world away.

And then the message came back from that sailor on a distant shore……”Hi cutie…..I’m fine.” ”Hi cutie…..I’m fine.” ”Hi cutie…..I’m fine.” ”Hi cutie…..I’m fine.”

He was fine?

He was okay?

He was safe?

I screamed and giggled and spun around and the heavens parted and I heard the hallelujah chorus.  And then I shouted into the phone with all of the joy and exuberance and adoration I could muster…….”I LOOOOOOOOVVVVVVVE YOOOOOOOU.”

Except I forgot.

You see….the “I love you” didn’t end there.

It wasn’t just between us.

There were five people listening on the call.




flower centerpiece

Those veteran military personnel smiled as they repeated it

And each of them said it with all the joy that my “I love you” was intended to convey.

And in the end…..

…..I didn’t care if the world was listening.

Because that sailor with the twinkling brown eyes didn’t miss a word.

And he knew that I adored him.

And would be waiting for the day he returned.

And winging its way back across that ship to shore line with the static and the beeps and the blips via half a dozen scratchy military voices he sent me the sweetest “I love you” across the miles….

….extra butterflies included.

Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.


  1. Image for cindy cindy

    Awww...gosh I remember those days. Your just so cute Ms. Thistle:) I remember a phone conversation with mine one day when I told him he was going to be a father for the first time! I think I heard half the platoon decide that it was time for a quick small celebration:D Thanks for sharing your story...your such a good mama:)

  2. Image for Cheri Cheri

    My husband was a sailor also. Your words brought back so many memories- sad and glorious happiness. Watching the ship leave the harbor and then standing on that same harbor to see it return are memories forever etched in my brain. Thank you for helping me to remember.

  3. Image for Terri Terri

    awwww.... I got allll teary eyed the first time you posted this "True Love" story.... and here I am... all teary eyed again!!!! Precious moments with those girls of yours!!!! :) ... and here's to hoping we shall see glimpses from the "Dance"????? Blessings to you and yours!!

  4. Image for Jan Jan

    Please thank your sweet husband for his service and thank you for your part in making his service bearable! I'm sure your girls see the excitement of their future in your eyes and heart. You are a great Mom! May their first dance be a joy for them.

  5. Image for Karen in Texas Karen in Texas

    oh gosh - it is way to early to tear up this morning !! Love your stories !! Hugs from Texas (Waco) Karen

  6. Image for Judie Judie

    That story just brought tears to my eyes,is it the way you set up the story? I don't know,but those few words were so powerful ,so sweet,you can just picture those guys repeating those I love you's and grinning. I'm sure it went right through their tough navy exteriors and touched their hearts, I know it did ours......

  7. Image for Carrie Carrie

    Love, Love,LOVE this story of love. Every child deserves to know they are being raised with parents who adore each other! What a lasting gift you are giving your kids.

  8. Image for Donna Weigel Donna Weigel

    That literally brought tears to my eyes and I instantly wished to hear my sweet husbands I'm calling him right now. Bless you Kari and thank you for reminding me of how lucky I am. Donna

  9. Image for Gail Gail

    Yep...I'm crying too! Just a beautiful story from beginning to end! Thank you for sharing! It definitely has put the sunshine in this gloomy January day! Gail

  10. Image for Deb Huffaker Deb Huffaker

    Oh, so cheeks are hurting from smiling. You are just the most adorable and I love you! (I entered your prayer request into my calendar for the week of April 12th) HOPE you have an awesome day and your girls so much enjoy that dance! (and my hubby still gives me butterflies.....after knowing each other for almost FIFTY years.....mercy, how can that be since I'm only 39!!) ;-)

  11. Image for Debbie Esparza Debbie Esparza

    What beautiful and sweet love stories, and everyday stories you are leaving for your children. You write with such beauty! Love them all, Karianne!

  12. Image for Donnamae Donnamae

    I remember butterflies....I think it's wonderful when you get them later in life....they are unexpected...but oh so wonderful! Sweet sweet story! ;)

  13. Image for Michelle Rudis Michelle Rudis

    Oh my, you had me tearing up this morning! And then chuckling at the end. What a sweet story of love and dedication! KariAnne, I know your husband fought for our country and our freedom and I think I said once to thank him for his service. If I didn't, I sincerely apologize because everyone of those young men and women deserve so much more--the very least we can do is offer a simple 'thank you.' But, I think we forget sometimes that there is a family they've left at home who are also sacrificing for our freedom and country. So if I've never said so before, please let me offer a heart-felt, great big thank you to you too! But on a side note...isn't the 'first dance' with your darlings so much fun??? I still laugh and reminisce about that with my two grown kids, and how sweet they looked in their pictures.

  14. Image for Jeanne Jeanne

    Ahhh...a delightful way to begin my morning at work before the "heavy lifting" begins. Lovely. And enjoy the ups and downs and all the in-betweens of the Valentine's Dance(!)

  15. Image for Julia Julia

    I can't re-read this blog post! I am sitting at my desk and I will cry!!! Your twins are so blessed to have you as their Mother! Have a happy day and tell your girls to have a wonderful time at the dance!

  16. Image for Jolyn Jolyn

    Again, a tissue alert would have been nice, so I'm not sitting at my desk at work blubbering like a baby. But by now, I should know better. Any story that starts with "one of my favorite love stories from the blog" should send up big red flags! Be sure to let us know how the dance turns out!

  17. Image for Cheryl Cheryl

    My husband and I are in our 50th year of marriage......and I still get butterflies. I still see that eighteen year old sweetheart when I close my eyes to kiss him. Tell your girls that when it is true love the butterflies never go away!

  18. Image for Donnie Donnie

    Love the story, told as only you can tell. And, after 45+ years, I still get butterflies, too. Tell the girls the best is yet to come! Now, I'm going to shock my granddaughter and tell her I may take up the nae nae!!

  19. Image for barb barb

    Kari Anne! I didn't wear waterproof mascara today!! I sit here the fool at my desk looking like I choked on my lunch- Thankfully though, I can look over my own padded-less shoulder and see my sweet husband sitting at his desk... Butterflies abound :)

  20. Image for Rosalie McCreary Rosalie McCreary

    Even I had the sniffles and lump in my throat! I too still get butterflies and a big smile on my face when I look at my love of 51 years. He is definitely "the wind beneath my wings"!!!!!!!!!!! Ah, that first dance! All the planning and excitement! Enjoy Mama! They will have a great time! The word picture behind the galvanized feeder flower arrangement (which I absolutely love, love), what are all the words? Where did you find it? Thank you for sharing your life and love with us and have a great weekend!

  21. Image for Kris Kris

    Oh, darn it, that story gets me every time. But I also have butterflies from looking at your beautiful flowers. Love me some tulips. MY middle school boy refuses to go to dances. Probably scared off by girls with butterflies. ;)

  22. Image for Sheila F Sheila F

    Oh how I love this! I remember the days of high school dances with my kiddos! Three daughters, two sons. My daughters are now married with little ones of their own . My sons are ages 19 and 20. Both of them are in the Marine Corps. I know of the fear, and of the immense pride we carry in our hearts. Time flies Karianne. It's refreshing to link my heart with a young woman who recognizes how precious these "moments" are... with our children and our hubbies! Last night, my husband walked in the door after a long day at work. I heard the door shut, and then I heard his voice, He said... "I'm SO glad that I love coming home!" "I REALLY love being here... with you." I still get butterflies too!

  23. Image for Marisa Franca @ All Our Way Marisa Franca @ All Our Way

    *SIGH* I love that story. I could read/listen to it once a week!! Happy endings are what I believe in. I know it isn't always possible but I believe if you listen to your heart and work very hard that happy endings are very possible. My Honey is my best friend and after 48 years we still hold hands and tell each other we love one another EVERY DAY. And the butterflies are still there ;-) Can't wait to hear about the little Thistles dance.

  24. Image for Dawn Dawn

    That's what I get for reading at work! Trying not cry so I don't have to explain myself! What a wonderful story! Thank you for sharing!!!

  25. Image for Mary Mary

    Oh my God, Karianne!! You can bring me to tears without even trying! Your stories touch my heart always. I'm a HUGE supporter of our Military therefore in addition to loving your story, let me give a great big salute and a bigger THANK YOU to your hubby for his service to our country. His contribution along with others who have served is the reason WE are free... as my bumper sticker says: FREEDOM ISN'T FREE! Many thanks for sharing this story with all of your fans.

  26. Image for Diane Diane

    I love your prose. What a talent you have and thank you for sharing it with us. Love those girls and the husband who helped you make them.

  27. Image for Carol Carol

    I Looove your stories! I never know if I am going to laugh, giggle , be inspired to decorate or cry my eyes out as I did today! We are on vacation so I am late getting to your story. My husband looks over at me boohooing, trying not to shake the bed. What's the matter with you??? As I dry my eyes, I told him of my friend who always has the best stories. I am so glad to have found you. I so enjoy your gift of sharing!

  28. Image for Sheran Steading Sheran Steading

    Oh, my. What memories you have rekindled. All of us who have sent husband, brothers and other loved ones into harms way have had similar experiences, but my heart resonated as I remember watching my husband of six months board an airplane for Viet Nam. We were lucky and a year later he arrived home safely, but I will never forget the angst, the worry, the prayers and the gratefulness. Happy Valentines Day, Karianne!

  29. Image for Susan Susan

    I could never tire of this very touching story...I'll bet your little girls get goosebumps every time you recount it to them...what a beautiful way to show them just how much love their parents share with one another! I hope the Thistlettes had a wonderful time at the dance! May your lives always be filled with butterflies!

  30. Image for Gail Gail

    My husband and I spent 23 years In the service. I was the home body and he traveled where ever they needed medical personnel. I remember being at work and them saying the base he was on was hit, the hospital and barracks where hit the worst. I knew he was in one or the other. I made phone calls but no one could tell me a thing. I waited and waited, told my kids he was extra busy and couldn't call home. I had to work, take care of the kids, and try to help other wives that were in the same boat. 3 wks. later I got a call like you did. Moments like that make you see what is important and what has value. I felt 16 again, going to the prom with him. ( He was my sweetie in HS). I didn't cry on the phone, you learn to be tough and do that sort of thing after you hang up. I got on my knees and prayed. This was my place, to be the rock and stability for my family. Butterflies are still flying . Stronger and stronger. Tell your girls that life is hard, but love is grand. Your such a good Mama.

  31. Image for Mindy Whipple Mindy Whipple

    So happy you repeated this since I hadn't found your blog yet when it was first posted. My Dad was a Navy man so, having a grateful appreciation for all members of all services, I have a soft spot for the Navy. Thanks to your husband for his service and thank you to you who supported him - equally important in my book. Bless both your hearts!

  32. Image for Nancy Nancy

    What a precious love you share! I could read this over and over, it's wonderful. You sharing the butterflies with your daughters is just beautiful~ Have a blessed day! Nancy

Comments are closed.