Friday, June 29, 2007

Some Really Do Give All

On Wednesday night we went to a farewell dinner for a fellow army wife who is moving. She's lived here at Fort Polk for about five years. In the last year her life has flipped upside down in a way that most of us pray never happens. July 17, 2006, her husband was killed in Afghanistan by an IED. My husband worked along side her's, fighting the "war on terror". A lot of the guys remaining in the platoon have survivor's guilt because of what happened. The event is often spoken in whispers among the men who were there, and who lost a good friend.
Staci, the widow, has remained strong and proud. As the guys gave her yet another plaque on Wednesday to show their undying gratitude for her and her family's sacrifice, she gave a touching speech that I think will always stay with me.
She told the guys not to ever feel guilty for what happened. She told them her husband would be pissed if he knew the guys were sitting back here feeling bad that they are home with their families. She told us all that she will be alright. That she sits alone in her house and cries, that she's sad and mad and that sometimes she looks up and yells at her husband for leaving her with two girls who act exactly like him. But she's very proud, and she will be fine. She watched her mother grieve when her father died, and her grandmother grieve when her grandfather died. She saw them be happy again, and she knows that she can be happy again someday, too. Staci is proud of her husband, and she's proud of all the guys in the platoon for being so strong. She told us that she has educated her daughters to know the truth of how their daddy died. She told them that President Bush did not kill their daddy, nor did the United States government. The Taliban killed their daddy. Terrorists. They are the only ones to blame.
One part of Staci's speech that really got to me was when she said, once someone told her that every touch she makes counts. Whether it's good or bad, it counts. She said she has thought of that often since her husband has gone, and she works hard to make her touches count. She reminded the guys that they should do the same. Staci asked them that, if they took anything away from their time with her, that should be it. To learn how to make every touch count.
We sent Staci off to start a new place in her life, in a new house she just built, in the place where her and her husband first met. Staci and her two girls have great plans for their new house, including a "daddy room" where they will hang the numerous plaques and awards and pictures they have received.
Staci is one of those "seasonal" friends that I'm sure I won't see again. She will, however, forever impact my life. I will strive to make all of my touches in life count. I will remember her sacrifice to our country, and to my personal freedom. My children will always be reminded of those who didn't come home. Especially daddy's friend. And I know my husband, who wakes up in cold sweats in the middle of the night, will never forget the friend he had.
Life for us here will go on. The guys will deploy again and we will hold down the fort, as usual, and pray they all return home safely.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I'm Officially a Paid Blogger!

Well, I haven't actually even started yet, but I've been accepted as a Blogger for 451 Press writing for their Watching Lost blog. I've got my foot in the door! Who knows what this will lead to. I hope you check out the Lost blog often. It's one of my favorite shows and I am excited to write about such a complex show. This show has so many levels that it should always be easy to find subjects to write about.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Ball ~ finally over!

Yes, it went much faster than it came. All that build up and anticipation, and it was over in a matter of 4 hours.
We got to the hotel on Friday around 3:00, got our very luxurious jacuzzi suites, and started getting ready. A CafeMom friend gave me a great suggestion for my hair that I figured I could pull off by myself. After spending $30 at Claire's right before leaving for the hotel, I hoped it would work so that I didn't waste my money.
I twisted the front into six cute little twisty things. That's how the front was for my wedding as well. Then put cute sparkly bobby pins in to hold it down. I tried to curl the back into springy curls, but my hair doesn't hold curls for more than 5 minutes no matter how much hairspray I use, so I gave up and used a pretty butterfly clip to hold a bun in place. It looked cute. Or as cute as I could get it doing it myself.
The whole time I was getting ready I felt like a silly little girl wearing my mom's cocktail dress. I never actually felt like a grown up going on a date with my husband. Even when I was sitting at my table with my husband and his fellow soldiers, and we were all drinking beer and wine, I kept looking around to make sure my mom wouldn't catch me holding a beer in my hand!

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Ball ~ part three

Today's the day and my stomach is in knots! I still have no idea what to do with my hair. My mom and I are going to Claire's later today to see if we can find cute stuff to stick in it. Most women, if past experience serves me, will have their hair in an updo. Which probably explains why all the salons around here are booked today.
My parents did arrive safely yesterday. Late, but safe. Their plane was scheduled to land at 11:08 and they got there at 12:20. Apparently the baggage was loaded wrong and the plane was unbalanced. So they had to unload everything. Well, with 50 military duffle bags aboard, I can see how that could happen.
The kids got to sit on an observation deck and watch the plane come in. Then Gramps came walking down the stairs and they all started calling, "Gramps, Gramps!" They didn't know he was coming, too! We surprised them!
My parents were very excited to see the kids, of course, and very happy to be off their cramped little plane.
In a few minutes we'll head over to their hotel to do some long awaited swimming. Later today we head down to Lake Charles to the hotel where the ball is at. We all got jacuzzi suites and if the kids behave and everything works out right, husband and I will have a night to ourselves. I'm not even sure the last time we did that. Years. But I'm leaving the ball early to hit that jacuzzi, I know that!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Ball ~ part two ~ SHOES!

If I had cute little feet, I'd totally be a shoe person. I'd buy Payless and Shoe Dept. out every time I went there. Darn these wide, chubby feet of mine! Why o why must I be cursed this way? I rarely find a decent size to fit me. I usually end up squeezing my feet into something way too small and totally regretting it 30 minutes later.

This time was going to be different. This time I was going to wait until I found a perfect pair of wide size 7 1/2's. This time.... no matter how long it took.... I was going to.... Nope. I didn't. I found Wide size 9's galore, though. So if you're a wide size 9, come shopping for shoes by me!

I settled. As usual. I'm wearing them right now, and it's not too painful. I've been wearing them for about two hours and so far so good. I did stand for awhile and my feet started to hurt a little. There's just no such thing as a perfect shoe for me unless it's a flip flop or a Converse Chuck Taylor.

I am, however, very happy that I got the first pair of shoes I fell in love with a few weeks ago when we went dress shopping. You know how you see something and then can't get it out of your mind and no matter how many cute other things you see, you still really really want that first cute thing you saw? Ya, that was this first pair of shoes. Those cute little Mary Janes fit me (figuratively) so well. Tonight, at the last possible shoe store I could check before the ball, there they were. Not in a wide size, of course, but I was able to squish my feet in a size 8 1/2. I'm sure I will regret it later, as I'm standing during "social hour" waiting to sit down to dinner. But at least I'll look cute!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Another Father's Day

Wow! It's been a whole year since my last Father's Day post? Time sure did fly by.
Last year husband was in Afghanistan. He probably didn't even realize it was Father's day. We probably sent him a box and added some goodies and cards, and he probably got the box with that sinking feeling in his heart that he was missing yet another occasion with the kids. Thousands of daddy's are feeling that sinking feeling this year as they celebrate with their children through pictures and boxes and cards. To make those daddy's (and mommy's who missed Mother's day with their kids) feel better, why not go here to find some wonderful ways to help.
Next year husband is scheduled to be gone as well. I am sure he would love to get packages and love and support from everyone who knows him, as well as those who don't. So why not support the soldiers this year. It's never too late to say Thank You.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


Last night the kids and I were up way too late looking back at all the pictures I have on the computer. They were oohing and aahing over younger versions of themselves, and Hunter was pointing at baby pics of Drew saying "Hunter".
I don't really take too many videos, but we did come across a few cute videos of Drew and Louisa. They have always been best friends. People ask me how I do it and I really don't do anything. They have just naturally been best friends since day one. Most of the videos we have are of them being cute together. Playing together and making funny faces and stuff.
This one video brought back the most memories and heartiest round of laughter ending in tears streaming down mommy's face. When Drew was 2 and Louisa was 5, they would sing this song called "So Night". And that's all they would sing, "so night, so night, so night...." over and over and over. I don't remember how it started but it had something to do with Drew being scared of something and making this song up to cheer himself. Then Louisa, of course, would chime in.
Without further ado, Drew and Louisa singing the pop hit, "So Night".

Friday, June 15, 2007

Hunter's New Underwear

Today we start the big Potty Train! When Drew was little he was so into trains that he was always disappointed the Potty Train had nothing to do with an actual train.
Now it's Hunter's turn. At 22 months old, I'm bound and determined to get this thing started. Both Drew and Louisa didn't fully train until they were a whopping 3 and a half. My mom was scared that they'd both go to kindergarten wearing diapers. I'm happy to say, they didn't. I did cut it pretty close to preschool, though!
I'm on top of this potty training thing with Hunter. We got the Elmo potty out, washed and waiting in the bathroom. We also bought some Nemo underware, and he promptly put on all three pairs. Hunter proudly pranced around the house showing off his Nemo underware to everyone that would pay attention to him.
After awhile the excitement of the potty and the underware will wear off. I just really hope that it doesn't take until he's 3 and a half before he finally gets it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Army Wives: the show vs. real life

A lot of people have asked me what I think about the new Army Wives show on Lifetime. Gee... I don't know. I don't need someone telling me about my life. I don't need people glorifying and romanticizing what I go through. And I certainly don't need anyone thinking that the show is real life. It's Hollywood. It's Desperate Housewives on an army base. I don't like Desperate Housewives, so why am I going to like Army Wives?
If you have no clue what I'm talking about, click here to see the first two episodes.
Here are some of the things I see wrong with the show (and yes, I know the show is fiction!):
~Where the heck do they live that they get nice housing like that?! Seriously, if you came here to Ft. Polk, Louisiana, you would see housing that would make your stomach turn. And yes, we HAVE to live here because the alternative is worse.
~If a wife ever spread a lie so that another wife's husband wouldn't get promoted, there would be serious ramifications. UCMJ would be involved and ranks would be taken away. Period.
~As far as the whole surrogate mother thing goes, her hubby is in Delta Force and yes, he could be kicked out if his commanding officer ever found out he was in debt. Delta is the highest, most special operations unit you can possibly get in, and there are very strict rules to being there. They will easily kick you out and put you back into regular army circulation for breaking any of the rules. It is that strict. So ya, if a wife was doing surrogacy to get more money because they were in debt, she'd have to keep it secret. (If you have no clue what I'm talking about, watch the show.)
~There's a lady who married a soldier after just meeting him in a bar. Guess what? It happens a lot. You see them in their uniform and they act all big and tough and you just can't resist. Here's this real live superhero standing right before you and you see shows or read books like Army Wives and it all seems so romantic. Unfortunately, it doesn't always work. But really, a lot of military marriages fail. I think it's hard to pinpoint just why. It's a stressful life, but so is over-the-road trucking and police and firefighters and doctors....
~The "FRG". This part cracks me up! There is no "team" of FRG ladies that wander around with baskets of cookies. The FRG (Family Readiness Group) is a support group for military families. Each unit has their own FRG and it's usually broken up into smaller sections to make it easier to get the word out and have meetings. I volunteer frequently with my FRG. I am a Point of Contact for our platoon. It doesn't really mean much, but I get info firsthand from the FRG leader, which is nice. Then I have to pass it along to the spouses/wives in my husband's platoon. I don't walk around dressed to the hilt handing out cookies and giving parties. Neither does my FRG leader, or the leader above her or the leader above her. It's just a support group. Some units, like mine, has very active FRG's. Other units never even hear a word from their FRG's. They are most helpful on deployments, and they can be there to help notify a spouse that their loved one was killed in action, but it's not their job to be. There are special grief advocates for that.
~The other thing I find hysterical is the guys walking around in their dress uniforms. Ok, really, that *never* happens! I've seen my hubby, in the past 7 years, in his dress uniform just a hanful of times. He certainly doesn't just walk around in it for no reason!
~The guys are not going to be sitting at their kitchen table cleaning their weapon. Ever. Ever.
~I don't know any wives who actually do their husband's deployment packing list for them. That's the soldier's job. Not ours. If something is missing, or forgotten, or the wrong color or shape or size... the guys could get in a lot of trouble. It's up to the soldiers to make sure they have everything they need.

So now that I've totally ruined the show for everyone, you can see why I don't need to watch a show to tell me what an army wife is supposed to be like.
This is my day as an army wife:
~4:30 am, wake up with hubby, make sure he has everything to start his day, see him out the door
~5:00 am, go back to bed
~6:30 am, get up and get the kids ready for school
~7:00 am, see the kids on to their school bus
~7:30 am, hubby comes home for "breakfast break" after morning PT. Make him breakfast while he takes a shower
~8:30 am, hubby goes back to work (whatever that is)
~9:00 am, the baby gets up
~10:00 am, off to playgroup (usually)
~11:30 am, hubby comes home for lunch break
~12:30 pm, hubby goes back to work (again, whatever that is)
~afternoon, baby takes a nap and I do some chores. yipee.
~3:30 pm, kids get home from school and do homework
~5:00 pm, get dinner ready
~6:00 pm, or 6:30 or 7:00 or 7:30 depending on who's in charge, who got in trouble, who needs extra counseling, or what he was doing that day, hubby gets home and either eats dinner with us or eats the plate I left in the fridge for him
~8:00 pm, two older kids go to bed
~9:00 pm, baby goes to bed
~9:30 pm, hubby and I finally get alone time
~10:00 pm, hubby goes to bed

Throw in some computer time, running errands, and maybe taking a nap once in awhile, as well as going out to lunch with friends one or two days a week, and you've got my oh so glamorous life as an army wife.
Now don't get me wrong, it's great to fantasize about what it's like to live in a world other than your own. Like how wonderful it would be to live life in Meredith Grey's shoes for one day, or Susan, Lynette, Brie and Gabrielle's lives... but I personally don't really care to see a glorified version of how someone perceives army wives to be. And trust me when I say, there's nothing romantic about fearing for you husband's life every waking (and sleeping) moment. How this show can romantisize a deployment, I will never understand. What we go through when our loved ones are gone is far from glorious. It's a lot of tears, a lot of stress, a lot of worry, a lot of sleepless nights and fear and what-if's and imagining the worst and "how will I tell his mother?" and explaining to the kids every single night why daddy isn't here to tuck them in and.... you get the picture.
My suggestion to anyone who wants to get involved with helping the troops or supporting the spouses left behind is... just help them. Don't watch a show and think you know what we go through. Take dinner to a friend who's hubby is deployed. Offer to help her plant some flowers. Send packages to the troops. Ask me, I've got a ton of good websites to visit. Click on my link on the side that says ""Let's Say Thanks". Watch the show and enjoy it, but remember, we're real and the real wives sometimes need help. But we won't ask for it. We're a proud sort of wife.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Ball ~part one~

In a few weeks we are going to the army ball for our unit. I hate balls. I hate dressing up and getting all girlie. I'm not even close to a size that is comfortable wearing a ball gown or any type of formal dress. And although I've been running on the treadmill and watching what I eat for the past few weeks (not for the ball but just because) I am not seeing any progress and I'm pouting about it.
I didn't know I was going to the ball until a few days ago. We couldn't find a babysitter, not that I was looking too hard. The ball is in a city that's over an hour away, and silly me, but I seem to have anxiety issues about leaving my children with someone I hardly know and then going an hour away from them for about 5 hours. Chances are, I'd have a panic attack and not even enjoy my time.
In steps my dad. And mom. Last week as I was whining to my dad, he decided to help me out. He's sending my mom down here for a few days so she can watch the kids while we go to the ball. Even better, my mom is getting us a few suites at the hotel so that the kids can be right there near me.
After my mom told me she was coming down to watch the kids thus ending that crisis, my next issue came up. The Dress. As I mentioned, I'm in no shape to be picking out a dress that I feel and look good in. I don't like dressing up. I didn't even enjoying dressing up and being the center of attention at my own wedding (yep, that's weird, I've been told!).
Today the kids, the husband, and I went up to the big city to visit the mall. We went to store after store and after carefully considering a blue giraffe look that Drew picked out and a blinged out cheetah pattern that Louisa picked out, we entered our last store for the day. Dillards. I was looking at all the sophisticated "Misses" formal dresses and honestly, none of them were me. I'm 5'3", so that leaves all floor length dresses out. Unless I wear 6" heels. And I'm not Sarah Jessica Parker the last time I checked. We were on our way out to go back and check out the blue giraffe dress again when I saw a few ball gowns in the Juniors section that looked nice. I liked a whole bunch of them and, lucky day, they had my size! That doesn't happen often.
I tried on about 6 of them, really really liking two. The kids and husband helped me make my final decision. Well actually, Drew was begging me to try on the green bean colored polka dot dress, and Louisa wanted me to try on a size 4 floor length blue glittery Cinderella dress. But they were ok with my final choice as well. Hunter had his eye on a red one, and a blue one, and a yellow one, and pretty much anything that his little stroller passed by.
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While in the dressing room, Louisa kept opening the door to hand me yet another dress that daddy had found. Yes, while I was partly naked. I did happen to be the only one trying on dresses, but scary for anyone who walked by to glimpse my granny underwear in the mirror. I did finally lock the door, only to find that Drew's Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Man's Chest key necklace could open the lock. Now seriously, who would have thought that the stupid necklace pendant could open locks? Of course, Drew knew it could the whole time.
While paying for the dress, the cashier gave us many strange looks. Probably wondering why an entire family needs to help mom pick out a formal dress. I, actually, was wondering the same thing. But at least we all got out of the house and the heat for the day.
No luck on shoes yet. That will be part two. My issues with my dumb wide feet and how I can never ever find formal shoes in a wide size.

Monday, June 04, 2007

A Walk Down Girl Scout Memory Lane

Louisa has been a proud Girl Scout for four years now. She started as a Daisy in kindergarten, served three years as a Brownie, and last Thursday we had the honor of watching our little birdie bridge to Junior Girl Scouts. The big difference between a Brownie and a Junior, besides the uniform being green instead of brown, is the maturity level. Junior Girl Scouts have typically been through 3 or 4 years of Girl Scouts. They know what to expect and what is expected of them. But what I'm most excited about is all the trips that Louisa will get to take. With Brownies she's been camping and roller skating and on volunteering trips and to the movies and tons of other stuff. But with Juniors Louisa will get to do much more camping, go to museums and national monuments, explore factories and see what makes America so great, as well as learn life skills. Her new scout leader is very active and we're excited to be a part of this new, more grown up troop.

I was a little sad at first because I was always hoping to be a scout leader or at least a co-leader. When I asked if I could help out next year because only 3 girls out of our troop are bridging up to Juniors, I was told that the Junior scout leader is very established and has been leading for many years. No, decades! She's been around for almost 3 decades. With a small sadness in my heart, I realize that it's best if Louisa goes with someone who has been doing this for a long time. Also, that she can be with a scout leader who can devote a lot of time to being very active with the troop and take them on a lot of trips. Now that so many days have passed since Louisa bridged, I realize that I'm excited for this opportunity for her.

Here is a walk down that old Girl Scout Memory Lane, but I don't have any Daisy pictures available. Those were my pre-digital days, and therefore the photographs are buried somewhere in the bottom of a big plastic tub and I just didn't have the energy to dig them out. Now might be a good time to start scrapping all of this for her, though. Before I forget too much of it!

{This is Louisa's first Awards Ceremony as a first year Brownie in 2004. She had ballet class right before Brownies, so she always had to wear her ballet leotard during meetings.}

{Louisa has marched in a total of about 6 parades between Memorial Day and Labor Day. This was Memorial Day 2005. Louisa's the one sporting the cool purple sunglasses!}

{May 2005, Louisa and I went on our first camping trip with Brownies. I am about 7 months pregnant with Hunter at the time. We had a blast and earned a lot of badges on this trip. I'm very grateful I got to tag a long!}

{In the summer of 2005, Louisa's Brownie leader rented them a garden plot in the local community gardens. The girls spent the summer working in the garden. They donated more than half of what they grew and they brought home a lot of yummy veggies to eat! Louisa is in the middle and the other two girls are the leader's twins, our very good friends who we miss a lot since we've moved, Caitlin and Ashley.}

{Perhaps one of the funnest trips we've taken to date is the trip to Libby Lu last spring. The girls worked hard selling cookies and their goal was a trip to Libby Lu in Milwaukee's Mayfair Mall. They all got make-overs, got to dress up, and then dance and have a lot of fun. Although, what Louisa gets to do this year with her new troop with the money they earned selling Girl Scout cookies will probably top Libby Lu, it was a blast and another trip that I'm so lucky I got to go on.}

{Last summer, separate from her regular troop, Louisa played Girl Scout softball. I was the head coach. My memoirs are listed here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here. Ok, you don't really have to read them, I just like bragging about how I coached the team to First Place!}

{Now we fast forward to this year. Third year Brownies. We moved to the army base in the end of November. I called in December to locate a new troop for us. They finally called us back in the middle of January. Just in time for cookie sales. Go figure. But, because of those cookie sales, Louisa gets to go spend the night at the Johnson Space Center in Houston so it was totally worth it. Here's my little birdie bridging last Thursday. She flew up, earned her wings, and is now officially a Junior Girl Scout. She's very proud of herself and all the hard work she's done.

Scouting is definitely her "thing".}